WACCI Graduates its 4th Cohort of PhD Students


WACCI PhD graduates


The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) on Friday, July 22, 2016, graduated its fourth cohort of PhD students in Plant Breeding at the July congregation of the University of Ghana, Legon. The ceremony was presided over by Justice Prof. Samuel K. Date-Bah, Chairman of Council of the University. The graduates who were made up of 3 male and 4 female students from 6 countries in Africa will join 28 other students who have already graduated from the Centre.


At a reception that followed the congregation, Dr. Rufaro Madakadze of AGRA congratulated the students on their achievement and was particularly pleased that the female students outnumbered the men in this cohort. She expressed AGRA’s commitment to the development of the human resource base that will serve as the launch-pad for AGRA’s objectives.  Dr. Madakadze said “AGRA, through its capacity building function, believes that the development of human resources in plant breeding to drive variety development is a critical component in the transformation of agriculture in Africa,”


Prof. Eric Danquah, the Director of the Centre, extolled the qualities that have made the WACCI programme so successful. He said that WACCI’s ability to attract students from within and outside West Africa was indicative of the quality of the PhD programme run by the Centre.


The students were also full of praise for the programme. Below are quotes from some graduates:


“Upon my graduation, I intend to evaluate the cowpea families I developed during my PhD Research work in multi-environments. I am also preparing three scientific articles to publish soon. The training at WACCI enabled me to acquire skills and knowledge that qualified me as a Research Officer and today, I work as head of legume and vegetable crop research in Cameroon and also serve as Chief of the Research Station,” Dr. Atemkeng-Nkoumki Maureen, Cameroon.

“At present in Nigeria, Tuta absoluta, an emerging pest referred to as 'tomato ebola' is causing 100% destruction of tomato. National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), where I work as a breeder has the national mandate for tomato improvement. I, therefore, intend to develop resistant tomato varieties to mitigate the adverse impact of this pest and increase the productivity of tomato. The training I've received at WACCI has equipped me for this great task,” Dr. Dorcas Olubunmi Ibitoye, Nigeria


“The programme has offered me the coordination and project management skills and access to global networks. I investigated Development of high yielding and stable maize hybrids tolerant to low soil nitrogen and provides a solution to produce maize with little fertilizer. In a short time, I intend to release the variety which will be beneficial not only to Ghana but to Africa. I also intend to continue my mentoring programme aimed at encouraging girls to pursue agriculture as a career,” Dr. Priscilla Adofo Boateng, Ghana


“The training I received will enable me research further into reducing the risk of famine and also contribute to food security in my country. As John F. Kennedy said, effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. So I am grateful to WACCI and AGRA for this opportunity,”Dr. Nofou Ouedrago, Burkina Faso.


The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), was established in June 2007 with funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to train Plant Breeders at the PhD level at the University of Ghana, Legon in Accra. In delivering its quality training, WACCI collaborates with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA and National Agricultural Research Institutions (NARI) where most of these students have been drawn from.  The collaboration with the NARIs ensures that the students go back to their home countries and are immediately engaged in research and development for the improvement of the lives of smallholder farmers. WACCI works closely with AGRA in responding to capacity needs of the region and in keeping with key strategic milestones in delivering an African Green Revolution.


WACCI PhD graduates in a group photograph with some AGRA officials and WACCI staff


AGRA is an African-led alliance focused on putting farmers at the centre of our continent’s growing economy. AGRA advances unique African solutions to sustainably raise farmers’ productivity and connect them to a growing marketplace. Together with its partners—including African governments, researchers, donors, the private sector, and civil society—AGRA seeks to create an environment where Africa feeds itself. AGRA works across 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and maintains a head office in Nairobi, Kenya and country offices in Ghana, Mali, Mozambique and Tanzania.