Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, the Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement participated in the Feed the Future (FtF) Innovation Labs’ West Africa Regional Partners Meeting in Dakar, Senegal, from 6 - 9 February, 2017. The three-day meeting organised by the Innovation Labs’ Council (ILC) and the Bureau for Food Security, USAID, under the FtF Initiative, focused on identifying agricultural research priorities and strengthening partnerships.
Speaking on Human and Institutional Capacity Development (HICD), Professor Danquah used the WACCI model to advise the ILC on workable models for building human capacity for the food value chains in West Africa. Professor Danquah said that it was important for Africa to lead initiatives aimed at addressing the food and nutrition challenges of the region. He cited the late eminent scientist and Founding Director General of the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology, Professor Thomas Odhiambo, who in 1990 said that, “What required in Africa is much more first class science, conducted by African scientists, to solve the problems of African agriculture.”
Professor Danquah said that no developed country solved its problems until universities were strengthened to train a critical mass of innovators and game changers. He said that WACCI had in 10 years become the largest hub for PhD plant breeding training in Africa, with 102 enrolments, out of which 35 have already graduated and returned home to lead breeding programmes. He called for partnerships which would strengthen WACCI to make it one of the pre-eminent plant breeding institutions in the world. Professor Danquah argued that until Africa developed institutions as good as or better than the world class institutions in the USA and elsewhere, the challenges we see today would persist. He invited participants to WACCI’s 10th Anniversary launch, at the University of Ghana on June 7, 2017, during which an Endowment Fund of USD 60 million for the centre would be launched.
Participants at the meeting included the Chief Scientist and key officers of the Bureau of Food Security, USAID, Washington DC, USA, the Directors of the FtF Innovation Labs from key Universities in the USA and the leaders of FtF projects in West Africa.
Professor Danquah paid a courtesy call on Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Director of CORAF, to confer on efforts in West Africa to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, as well as promote sustainable agriculture. Dr. Tenkouano informed the WACCI Director that the Board of CORAF has approved an event to be held later in the year to celebrate CORAF’s 30th Anniversary and WACCI’s 10th anniversary in Dakar. Dr. Tenkouano also informed the WACCI Director that CORAF was working on a new phase of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) in which HICD will be prioritised. Dr. Tenkouano accepted an invitation to participate in the launch of the 10th anniversary celebrations at the University of Ghana on June 7, 2017.