The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana held a training workshop on Demand Led Variety Design (DLVD) from 13 – 14 October 2016 at the Erata Hotel, Accra, Ghana. The workshop was based on a training manual developed through the collaboration between the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), the Crawford Fund and the University of Queensland on the one hand; and African partners who include WACCI (lead institution), African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), BecA-ILRI Hub, CIAT, and the University of Nairobi on the other. The objective of the workshop was to impart skills to plant breeders on how to engage stakeholders in the process of plant variety design with the ultimate aim to improve variety adoption in African agriculture. Topics covered included the following: Principles of DLVD concept; Visioning and foresight for setting breeding goals; Understanding clients; New variety design and product profiling; Variety development strategy and stage plan; Monitoring, evaluation and learning; and Making use of investments in new variety development. A total of 20 participants attended the training workshop all from the first three cohorts of WACCI graduates representing National Agricultural Research Systems of Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Kenya. Evaluation of the course by participants was very positive and all were willing to be involved in the training of other breeders and relevant stakeholders when the training manual on the demand led variety design is finally rolled out. Prof. Pangirayi Tongoona and Dr. Agyemang Danquah delivered the training course.
Participants at the workshop in an interview with the Ghana News Agency hailed WACCI for enhancing their research capacities. Dr. Moses Adedu Adebayo of the Department of Crop Production and Soil, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Oyo State, Nigeria, appealed to the Centre to incorporate the modules of the workshop into its PhD programme for training new plant breeders. He said the modern breeder must be well bred to meet the challenges of crop breeding. Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante, a Senior Research Scientist and a Rice Breeder, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research - Crop Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana, said the knowledge gained at the workshop would empower them to produce new varieties that are acceptable to stakeholders; which would go a long way to impact positively on Ghana and Africa at large.
WACCI Alumni in a group photograph with Prof P. Tongoona