The 2010 batch of students from the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana, Legon have returned to the Centre upon completion of their research work in their home institutions to complete theses for submission. This research component of their PhD training lasted a period of 33 months. WACCI is one of the Africa Centers of Excellence.
A number of these students are already making impact in research for development at the country and regional levels in West and Central Africa. These students will be game changers and history makers as West and Central Africa strives to end hunger and attain food and nutritional security by 2030. Highlights are as follows:
- Mrs Maureen Atemkeng’s thesis research was on “Genetic analysis of nodulation in cowpea “Vigna unguiculata (L) Walp in low phosphorus soils”. She works as a researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD), Cameroon and was appointed as Chief of Research Programme in June, 2015. Her responsibilities include monitoring activities of researchers in the field, developing technical bulletins for legume and vegetable production and organising open days to present research findings to farmers and stakeholders. Soon before returning to WACCI to complete her PhD thesis, she was appointed as Chief of Station at IRAD, Barombi-Kumba.
- Mrs. Dorcas Olubunmi Ibitoye worked on “Genetic analysis and identification of quantitative trait loci associated with pre and post flowering drought tolerance in cowpea for her thesis. She was an award winner in “The Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) and the Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) research paper competition, 2015. Her paper titled “Performance of cowpea hybrids under drought induced and well-watered conditions” was awarded the second prize in the PhD category for the West Africa Region by a distinguished panel of judges. Dorcas is a Research Scientist at the National Horticultural Research Institution in Ibadan, Nigeria. She is returning to her workplace to take her PhD research forward and to release highly adaptable and high yielding cowpea varieties for water-stressed soils in Nigeria following her training in modern plant breeding for effective and efficient development of superior climate-smart varieties for resource poor farmers.
Five other students from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Nigeria have also made breakthroughs in their work on four staple crops (Cassava, Cowpea, Maize and Sorghum) and are returning to their home institutions in December, 2015 to work towards developing improved and resilient crop varieties with genes for resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses.
The eighth student of this cohort, Kenneth Fafa Egbadzor completed his PhD a year ahead of his colleagues and is back at the Plant Genetics Resources Institute, Bunso, Ghana leading a programme on cowpea improvement.
The quality and importance of the WACCI PhD in plant breeding programme has been acclaimed worldwide and recommended for replication in Africa and south East Asia by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in their 2009 report. Development partners and Foundations are encouraged to support the WACCI programme for West and Central Africa to develop the critical mass of plant breeders needed to develop the climate-smart, high yielding and nutritious varieties of staple crops urgently needed in farmers fields to meet the goal of food and nutritional security in the region by 2030. For more information on WACCI, visit www.wacci.edu.gh.