Some Participants from CIP and AGRA in a photograph with the WACCI sweet potato breeders
A WACCI graduate and two students, Dr. Some Koussao (Cohort 1, Burkina Faso), Mr. Ernest Baafi (Cohort 3, Ghana) and Mr. Afuape Solomon Olufemi (Cohort 5, Nigeria), all sweetpotato breeders in their respective home countries have participated in the 14th Annual Sweet potato Breeders Meeting held in Uganda from June 2 to 5, 2015. The meeting brought together over 42 scientists from 14 countries across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the International Potato Center (CIP), Peru, a team from the Genomic Tools for Sweet Potato Improvement Program (GT4SP) led by Prof. G.C. Yencho from North Carolina State University and many other experts in genomics, bioinformatics and sweet potato virology. Also at the meeting was Dr. Jim Lorenzo, a renowned plant breeder and representative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Dr. Jane Ininda, plant breeder and Associate Program Director of PASS, AGRA. The meeting gave the participants the opportunity to share the progress and challenges in the area of sweet potato breeding in SSA and also learn about the new tools that could help enhance sweet potato breeding in the sub-region.
Dr. Some Koussao and Mr. Ernest Baafi delivered presentations on their PhD theses research. In his presentation titled “Genetic improvement of sweet potato for beta-carotene and yield in Burkina Faso” Dr. Some Koussao said he had identified Sweet potato germplasm in Burkina Faso with high diversity that can be used in breeding programmes across the sub-region. He concluded that 3 out of the 12 hybrid varieties developed during his thesis research would be multiplied for release to farmers by December 2015.The WACCI sweetpotato breeders also took time to visit the thesis research field trials of Mr. Kayondo Siraj Ismail, a WACCI student who is back in Uganda for his thesis research at National Crops Resources Research Institute (NACRRI), Kampala, Uganda.
Mr Kayondo (3rd from left) in the photograph with the sweet potato breeders from WACCI
The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) was established in 2007 as a partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell University, USA with initial funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The Centre was set up to train plant breeders, at the PhD level, with expertise to improve the indigenous crops that feed the people of the sub-region. Since inception, the Centre has enrolled 82 PhD students from 12 African countries and graduated 18 students from two cohorts.