The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana has held a three-day workshop from July 14 -16, 2015 at the Volta Hotel, Akosombo on the theme “Transforming WACCI into a sustainable Centre of Excellence for Training Plant Breeders and Seed Scientists for the future of food security in Africa”. The workshop brought together 35 participants from six academic units (the Business School, the Department of Botany, the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, the Department of Soil Science, the Department of Crop Science, the Biotechnology Research Centre and the WACCI) of the University of Ghana and affiliated retired academics. Other invited guests at the workshop included Dr. Rita Mumm, Professor Emerita and founding Director of the Plant Breeding Centre, University of Illinois and Chairperson of the WACCI External Review Panel, 2015, Professor Kwame Offei, Pro Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Mr. Richard Boapea, the Director of Finance, University of Ghana and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Professor Kwadwo Ofori.
The Director of WACCI, Professor Eric Danquah who opened the workshop said that WACCI had in eight years positioned itself as a leader in plant education in Africa and increased initial investments by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from 11 million USD to about 24 million USD through strategic multi-donor partnerships. He called for the need for a transformation of WACCI into a sustainable world-class platform for training of the next generation of history makers in the area of crop improvement in Africa through strategic partnership to build capacity for the agricultural development of Africa in our lifetime. Major documents discussed included the Review Panel Report, April 2015, A Resource Mobilisation Strategy document, A Communication and Visibility Strategy paper, A Draft Strategic Plan 2018 - 2028, WACCI’s Vegetables Innovation Laboratory Strategy paper and Curricula for the PhD in Plant Breeding, the MPhil in Crop Science (Plant Breeding and Genetics option (collaboration between the Department of Crop Science, WACCI and the Illinois Plant Breeding Centre, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA through the USAID Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Laboratory) and the MPhil in Seed Science and Technology (collaboration with the Iowa Seed Centre, Iowa State University, USA). The workshop, which was a huge success ended with the selection of foundation students for the MPhil in Seed Science and Technology and PhD in Plant Breeding programmes under the World Bank Africa Centres of Excellence Project. In closing, the Director of WACCI called for donors and philanthropists who wanted to see real change in the agricultural development of Africa to read the Executive Summary of the Review Panel report on WACCI and to consider WACCI as a worthy strategic partner in their efforts to bring real change into the lives of rural women and children in Africa and the resource poor farmers whose major aspiration is where their next meal would come from. He pledged WACCI’s commitment to quality education for transformation change in plant breeding education for the future of food security in Africa and thanked the participants for contributing to a worthy course.
Some important quotes at the workshop included the following:
“The Panel assessed that, following the proposed recommendations, WACCI would be well-positioned to join the ranks of top-tier institutions educating the
next generation of plant breeding professionals globally.”
“Given WACCI’s evolution, strategic plans for further expansion and record of success to date, we view WACCI as an institution poised to have a tremendous impact on food security for Africa in the decade ahead and beyond by providing Africans with vital education in Africa to meet regional and global needs.”
-Professor Emerita Dr. Rita Mumm, Founding Director, Illinois Plant Breeding Centre, University of Illinois, Urbarna-Champaign.
“WACCI’s success has unquestionably positively impacted the University of Ghana’s academic stature”
-Professor Samuel Kwame Offei, Pro Vice Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs.
“WACCI has become a model in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and should be given the space and support to grow into truly world class Centre”.
- Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana.