The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) was established at the University of Ghana (UG) as a partnership between UG and Cornell University, USA in June 2007, with initial funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), to train Plant Breeders in Africa. The vision of WACCI is to be the foremost Centre for the training of Plant Breeders for West and Central Africa and its mission is to equip plant breeders with knowledge and field experience to lead the conversion of genetic and molecular discoveries into innovative solutions that will benefit agriculture in West and Central Africa.
The WACCI concept is based on the successful model of the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. This model is based on the premise that plant breeders can be trained in Africa to work on African crops in African environments.
Today, WACCI partners with over 20 organizations and institutions to train a critical mass of scientists to solve the problem of food insecurity in West and Central Africa. These partners include: Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Generation Challenge Programme (GCP), Kirkhouse Trust, VW Foundation, Cornell University, Purdue University, University of Queensland, University of Jos, Nigeria, the National Agricultural Research Institutes in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria and the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programmes (WAAPP) in Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Biosciences for Eastern and Central Africa (BecA), Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Premium Foods Limited and, the World Bank and the Association of African Universities.
WACCI achievements under the African Centers of Excellence Project
Recently, following an open, competitive and merit based process, WACCI was selected as one of 19 African Centres of Excellence (ACE) to receive USD 8 million from the World Bank as a project support grant from 2015 – 2018. Under this World Bank-ACE project, WACCI in collaboration with the Seed Science Centre at Iowa State University, USA has launched an innovative MPhil programme in Seed Science and Technology starting in the 2015/2016 academic year. Currently, there are 11 students from West African countries enrolled into the programme. The training is to equip students with knowledge and skills needed to ensure the development of a well structured seed industry in the sub-region to ensure that the end products of crop improvement programmes are delivered to the farmers.
The Centre has also established a Vegetable Innovation Lab (VIL) with the goal of improving food and nutritional security in West and Central Africa through increased utilization of major cultivated vegetables. The main objectives of the VIL are to increase productivity, adaptability and quality of selected cultivated vegetables in West and Central Africa through modern breeding approaches, increase farmers’ access to quality vegetable seeds in West and Central Africa, enhance human capacity in vegetable breeding, production, processing and marketing, create a platform for engaging the drivers of the value chain, both public and private stakeholders in discussions for sustainable production and marketing of vegetables, establish an electronic knowledge based platform for sharing information and resources and finally, influence policy for research and development of vegetables in the sub-region.
Lessons Learned by WACCI
The Centre intends to host a major international conference on ‘Reaping the benefits: 10 Years of quality plant breeding education at WACCI, University of Ghana in June 2017” during which an endowment fund aimed at raising USD 35 million will be launched.
Partnerships are sought with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the MasterCard Foundation, the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research Consortium, and the private multinational companies e.g. Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and Syngenta and the non-agricultural private institutions through their Corporate Social Responsibility drive to work together to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Goal #2 “End hunger, Achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030 in all of Africa.
For more information about WACCI visit this website: https://www.wacci.edu.gh/
Contributed By Prof Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, Director – West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement, University of Ghana