WACCI spearheads the adoption of game-changing hybrid tomato varieties to ensure sustainable agriculture for the future

WACCI spearheads the adoption of game-changing hybrid tomato varieties to ensure sustainable agriculture for the future

Three hybrid tomato varieties (AVTO1866 (Ante Dede), AVTO1870 (Legon Tomato) and AVTO1871 (Tomato Queen)) developed by the World Vegetable Centre, a partner of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) are being considered for release in Ghana following multilocational trials and submission to the National Variety Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC), Ministry of Food and Agriculture by WACCI .
Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, the Director of WACCI, in an address during a visit by the NVRRC to WACCI charged the Government of Ghana to invest in the agriculture commodity value chain to ensure that “game-changing” crop varieties such as these new tomato hybrids get to farmers across Ghana within the shortest possible time. “If you do not invest in the tomato value chain, these varieties will not go to the farmers in good time. That should not be the case”, Prof. Danquah said.
In his address, Mr. Seth Osei-Akoto, Chairman of the NVRRC highlighted how impressed he was with WACCI’s growth over the past years and praised the Centre for these new tomato hybrids but maintained that there still remained the challenge of getting farmers and consumers to accept hybrid tomato varieties. He charged scientists to develop strategies to understand the farmers needs and develop varieties that could meet those demands.

Mr Seth Osei-Akoto, Chairman of the NVRRC delivering his opening remarks

Dr. Leander Dede Melomey, a member of the WACCI hybrid tomato team led the NVRRC delegation to the field to inspect the hybrid tomatoes and later presented research findings from the multi-locational trials the team had conducted. Following rigorous scrutiny, Mr. Osei-Akoto announced that the three hybrid tomato varieties had been approved for recommendation for release and cultivation in the Coastal Savannah regions of Ghana.

Dr. Melomey presenting the trial hybrid tomato field to members of the NVRRC

In response to the approval of the hybrid tomato varieties, Professor Danquah congratulated the team and charged the Government of Ghana to fast track the ending of food importation by supporting local institutions like WACCI.
The WACCI hybrid tomato team consists of the following: Dr. Agyemang Danquah [Coordinator, Research (Academic Programmes) WACCI], Dr. Leander Dede Melomey (Postdoctoral Fellow, WACCI) and Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah (Director, WACCI).

Some of the hybrid tomatoes ready for harvesting

WACCI Director Calls for ‘More Brains’ to Secure the Future of the Seed Industry

WACCI Director Calls for ‘More Brains’ to Secure the Future of the Seed Industry

Professor Eric Danquah, Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana has made a call for the training of a critical mass of plant breeders to secure the future of the seed industry in Africa. 

This call was made on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, during a visit by H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Board Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), to WACCI.   

Accompanying H.E. Desalegn, were Madam Agnes Asiimwe Konde, Vice President, Program Development & Innovation, and Mr. Forster Boateng, West Africa Regional Head among other team members.  The visit, was to among others, interact with representatives of the Ghana Early Generation Seed Consortium for Sustainable Production of Quality Seeds.  WACCI, is the lead of this consortium which was established to scale up the production of breeder and foundation seeds for maize, soybean, cowpea and groundnut. 

Addressing the delegation, Professor Danquah highlighted the benefits of training African plant breeders and seed scientists in Africa in the race against time to eradicate food insecurity by 2030.  


“WACCI has one of the highest outputs of PhD graduates in plant breeding education in the world over the past 14 years. It costs significantly less to train our students at home” he said.  “Our students have gone on to release improved varieties of staple crops and have raised funds for their research institutions. This is the value of quality plant breeding education in Africa for Africa. Therefore, we must strengthen and replicate the WACCI model across the continent if we want a food-secure Africa”, Prof. Danquah added.  

H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, AGRA Board Chair 

For his part,  H.E. Desalegn commended WACCI for its achievements over the past 14 years in building the necessary human capacity, as well as conducting innovative and impact-driven research needed to drive food security and agricultural development in Africa.  

“WACCI is now much more important than ever because of the food challenges facing Africa”, he said.  

Madam Konde, in her remarks, also gave high praise to the Centre for its enviable accomplishments over the years in developing human resources and innovations to champion Africa’s green revolution. She called on WACCI, AGRA and other relevant stakeholders to continue to work hard in identifying and eliminating bottlenecks that prevented smallholder farmers from adopting innovations and technologies to fast-track efforts to transform agriculture on the continent.  


H.E. Desalegn and Prof Danquah with the WACCI team and AGRA officials 

WACCI Holds its Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

WACCI Holds its Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

Day One of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

Day One of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) held its Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop from May 16 – 22, 2021 at the Peduase Valley Resort, Eastern Region. The purpose of the workshop was to review key strategic decisions for the sustainability of the Centre and to develop clear roadmap to achieving this objective. 

Twenty-five participants comprising associate faculty members from the Departments of Crop Science, Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness, and the Biotechnology Centre, University of Ghana (UG), as well as administrative and management staff of the Centre participated in the workshop. Other invited guests who engaged the participants include Professor Felix Asante (Pro-Vice Chancellor – Office of Research, Innovation and Development, UG), Professor Mohammed Salifu (Director General – Ghana Tertiary Education Commission), Dr Sylvia Mkandawire (Programme Manager – African Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact) and Professor Gordon Awandare (Founding Director – West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens). Representatives from three agribusinesses, the Legacy Crop Improvement Centre (LCIC), KOD Farms and Weddi Africa Limited, were also present to outline their plans for win-win public-private collaborations with the Centre. 

The Director of WACCI, Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah in his remarks stressed on the need for WACCI to continue to strategize and evolve in order to meet its aspirations.  

Prof Eric Danquah giving his opening remarks on the first day of the workshop
Prof Eric Danquah giving his opening remarks on the first day of the workshop


“We have come a long way. WACCI turns fourteen this year thus it is imperative that we have a solid strategy to drive the Centre and its activities forward”, he said.  

Professor Salifu and Dr Sylvia Mkandawire in their remarks commended WACCI for all its achievements and continuous efforts in changing the narrative of agriculture and food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa. Professor Salifu congratulated the Centre on being one of the most successful Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs) and emphasized the need for the Government of Ghana to use ACEs as entry points for a complete shift in postgraduate education in Ghana and to foster collaboration instead of competition.  Professor Asante acknowledged WACCI’s contribution to alleviating food and nutrition insecurity in the sub-region and enhancing the global visibility of the University of Ghana. He pledged the University of Ghana’s support in creating sustainable environments for the Africa Centres of Excellence to continue to thrive.  

The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID), University of Ghana – Professor Felix Asante
The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID), University of Ghana – Professor Felix Asante

Professor Gordon Awandare, the Director of the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) delivered a talk on the topic: Creating and Sustaining a Globally Competitive Ecosystem for Research Excellence. He said that universities were the best places to build sustainable research capacities. He added that the recent major capacity building initiatives like the ACE Impact project were signs of hope for a rising Africa. 

The week-long workshop featured several updates from the Centre’s academic and administrative staff. These included updates from current faculty and postdoctoral fellows on their research, donor activities, communications strategy, human resources & administration, sectoral and industry partnerships, and Information & Technology infrastructure.  


WACCI was established in 2007 as a partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell University, USA with funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to train African students on African crops in Africa for Africa. Since its inception, the Centre has enrolled 149 PhD students in Plant Breeding and 65 MPhil students in Seed Science and Technology out of which 95 and 30 have graduated respectively.  In 2015, WACCI was selected as one of the first Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) by the World Bank. In 2019, the Centre was selected as one of the winners of the World Bank ACE Impact project grant. Under this new project, WACCI is charting a new path to becoming an “African Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” 

For more information, visit the WACCI website: https://wacci.ug.edu.gh/. 

Facebook: West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement 

Twitter: @wacci_gh 

LinkedIn: West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement  

Final Day of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategy Planning Workshop
Final Day of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategy Planning Workshop


The Centre’s women in agricultural science striking a pose
The Centre’s women in agricultural science striking a pose

GCHERA celebrates WACCI Director

On 28 October Professor Eric Danquah Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana received the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize 2018 at a ceremony at Nanjing Agricultural University, Peoples Republic of China. With this award GCHERA (Global Confederation of Higher Education
Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences) recognized Professor Danquah’s exceptional and significant life time achievements in the field of agricultural and life sciences. John Kennelly, President of GCHERA, in presenting
the award said: “Eric Danquah established the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), led a maize breeding program which has released three high yielding maize varieties in Ghana, created the Seed Science and Technology International MPhil degree program, and significantly contributed to the establishment of
the Biotechnology Centre at the University of Ghana.

The establishment of WACCI by Prof Danquah provided an environment where young people were inspired to pursue careers in plant breeding. Over 100 students from 19 African countries have had the life transforming opportunity to receive a world class education in plant breeding. His encouragement and support of women
to study in this area has been especially noteworthy as today over one third of the students enrolled in the program are women. Many of the graduates have gone on to develop improved varieties of commercial and indigenous
crops in their home countries. These highly trained professionals will continue to produce improved varieties of the staple crops of Africa for decades, thus extending the legacy of WACCI in improving the lives of small farmers as
well as contributing to global food and nutritional security.

The World Bank and Association of African Universities congratulate Prof. Danquah on this remarkable achievement.

WACCI Commissions multi-purpose building to aid Research and Development

The West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), one of the Centres under the African Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project hosted by the University of Ghana on August 24, 2018 commissioned its new multi-purpose office. The edifice was constructed with funds from the World Bank through the ACE Project.

The building was officially inaugurated by the Minister of Finance Mr. Ken Ofori-Attah and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu.

In his address, the Mr. Ken Ofori-Attah commended WACCI for its efforts towards transforming agriculture in Ghana. He noted that, the Centre’s contribution of agriculture to the Ghanaian economy could not be underestimated hence “makes it heart-warming to see this multipurpose building being commissioned”

Also present was the World Bank Country Manager for Ghana, Dr. Henry Kerali, who also applauded WACCI for a good job done. He said, “We are very proud to be associated with this Project. The foremost Centre in Post graduate training and research in Africa.” He also highlighted some major achievements of ACE Project saying, 6500 MSc and 1600 PhD graduates with 25% regional representations as well as 17000 short term courses. He also hinged on International and national accreditations received by the ACEs and external revenue generated to ensure the sustainability of the Project.

He further commended WACCI for its singular success stating, International Accreditation of the Centre’s programmes, its enormous publications and partnerships with other institutions and corporate bodies. He urged the Centre to implement policies and programmes to attract more regional students and female students

Speaking at the event, Miss Nodumo Dhlamini who led the AAU team on behalf of the Secretary General noted that, “the African Centres of Excellence Project places emphasis on results and the commissioning of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement Multipurpose Building is one of the key results of the ACE project being implemented by WACCI.” As the Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) for the Project, the Association of African Universities (AAU) commended the efforts of the government of Ghana and the World Bank as well as AAU’s immense support to the Project.

The West African Centre for Crop Improvement is one of the twenty- two Centres of Excellence under the World Bank funded ACE Project. The Centre seeks to address the challenges of the agricultural sector in Africa, with a further aim of improving the socio-economic growth of the continent. Since its inception in 2007, WACCI has grown to become the largest PhD warding Center in Plant breeding in Africa with 66 PhD graduates.

Other dignitaries present was the Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Ghana Dr Sagre Bambang, World Bank Ghana representative for the ACE Project Mrs. Eunice Ackwerh as well as stakeholders of the Academic Community, students and well wishers.


WACCI graduates its first cohort of MPhil students under the ACE Project


The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), has graduated its first cohort of MPhil students under the ACE Project. The Center on July 20 graduated nine (9) MPhil and 14 PhD students.

The first graduating cohort of 9 MPhil Seed Science and Technology students were enrolled under the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) project in August 2015. This 2-year innovative programme was developed in recognition of the dire need of the ailing seed industry in West and Central Africa.

In an interview, Professor Eric Y. Danquah, the founding Director of the Center noted that WACCI is exerting huge impact across the African sub-region and has shown in eleven years that quality plant breeding education is undoubtedly a smart development investment. The Centre continues to produce the much needed human resources who are at the forefront of agricultural transformation and plant breeding activities across sub-Saharan Africa. He stated that, these graduates have been equipped with entrepreneurial skills to enable them set-up and manage seed businesses which will ultimately transform the seed industry in the sub-region.

He also added, “WACCI is evolving into an Agriculture Innovations and Entrepreneurship institution to generate game-changing products needed for the inclusive transformation of African agriculture and urged Governments of Africa and development partners to prioritize institutions like WACCI for sustained core funding in order to transform agriculture in Africa.”

Prof. Danquah further noted that, a multipurpose building to be completed in August 2018 will provide world class research, teaching and learning facilities needed to attract strategic partners from around the world to make WACCI a preeminent global institution for world class agricultural research and training.

The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), hosted by the University of Ghana is one of the Agriculture Centers under the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) Project. The Centre has since inception, enrolled 114 PhD students in Plant Breeding and 36 students in MPhil Seed Science and Technology. A total of 66 PhD and 9 MPhil students would have graduated from the WACCI programme. Also, as the pre-eminent Centre for plant breeding education in Africa, WACCI has over 60 improved varieties of staples such as maize, sweetpotato, rice, cassava, groundnut, cowpea and taro with the potential of increasing Africa’s food production have been released by our graduates in their respective home countries.

WACCI receives International Accreditation

The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), which is one of the 22 African Centers of Excellence under the World Bank funded ACE project, has received International Accreditation for its postgraduate Programmes from AQAS, Germany.

The Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation of Study Programs (AQAS), a German- based institution noted for accreditation of excelling Higher Education Institutions has accredited two of WACCI’s post graduate Programmes – PhD in Plant Breeding and MPhil in Seed Science and Technology.

The International Accreditation was granted following a thorough evaluation conducted on WACCI, using the standards and guidelines for quality assurance approved by the European Association for Quality Assurance, European Students Union and the European University Association, among others.

Additionally, a panel of experts made up of Prof. Robert Hänsch, Technical University of Braunschweig, Gemany; Prof. Dr. Michael Kruse, University of Hohenheim, Germany; Dr. Victor Afari-Sefa, World Vegetable Center, Benin; Jorge Moreno Herrero, University of Mainz; Doris Herrmann and Dr. Dorothee Groeger, AQAS, visited the Centre from March 12-16, 2018 to inspect facilities and hold discussions with the Management and stakeholders of WACCI, following an assessment of a Self-Evaluation Report submitted by WACCI to AQAS.

Based on the report of the expert panel and the discussions of the Accreditation Commission at its 71st meeting, the Commission decided that the programmes, Seed Science and Technology (MPhil) and Plant Breeding (PhD) offered by the Centre were accredited. This was confirmed in a letter to WACCI, signed by Dr. Dorothee Groeger of AQAS. The accreditation is valid until September 2024.

Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, Director of WACCI has said that this accreditation will pave way for strategic collaborations with institutions in Europe and also increase the Centre’s capacity to boost research and help ensure food security in the sub-region. He noted, “We are currently restructuring with a focus on research for impact. This international accreditation should attract strategic partners from Europe and beyond to work with us in product development using modern science for the efficient and effective development of game-changing products for the inclusive transformation of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa,”

He added, that in order to facilitate the “Ghana and Africa beyond aid” agenda, there should be increased investments in research “We see our work impacting food and nutrition security in Ghana and beyond in the next few years. We believe the Ghana and Africa beyond aid agenda would not be a mirage if governments invest heavily in the food value chains. Innovation should be a high priority. Let’s put some funds in the home for innovations, our universities, and let’s challenge our scientists to deliver,” he said.

The Team Leader of the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project, Mr. Andreas Blom also added that, this is an “an indisputable testament to the quality of WACCI’s education”

WACCI currently runs one of the largest PhD educational programme in Africa with 62 students at various stages of training. It has also evolved into a top-tier plant breeding education institution globally and a leader in maize improvement in West and Central Africa.





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