The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Kaoru Yoshimura, a former Minister of Agriculture of Japan has visited the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana. He was received by the Vice Chancellor and management of staff of WACCI.
Prof. Eric Danquah, Director of WACCI in a discussion with Vice Chancellor Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu and the Japanese Ambassador
In a brief address, the Director of the Centre, Prof. Eric Danquah welcomed the Japanese Ambassador to the Centre and gave a brief overview of WACCI highlighting the 10th anniversary launch during which an endowment fund of USD 50 million was launched to support the transformation of WACCI into a sustainable world class Centre for training plant breeders and seed scientists and Technologists. Prof. Danquah said that a sustainability plan which would see WACCI flourish beyond the current funded phase was being developed and he was optimistic that WACCI would evolve into a top-tier plant breeding education globally in the next decade. Ambassador Yoshimura said he had read about WACCI’s Achievements in the Anniversary Brochure and he had come for a site visit on the invitation of WACCI to see for himself, developments at the Centre and he was looking forward to visiting the field to see the maize hybrids which were due for release. Ambassador Yoshimura, a lawyer by training said he had worked closely with agriculturists in his former life as a Minister of Agriculture in Japan and was well aware of developments in the agricultural sector globally. He intimated that if Ghana were to invest in the agricultural value chain, the country would attain food and nutrition security by 2030 as expected by Agenda 2030. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oduro Owusu in brief remarks thanked the Ambassador for the visit and hoped that the Japanese government would do for Agriculture what it has done for the Health Sciences in the University of Ghana. The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and more recently, a grant of US$ 21 m through the Japan International Cooperation Agency to construct an Advanced Research Centre for Infectious Diseases at the NMIMR are excellent models in the Health Sciences for investments in Agriculture, the Vice-Chancellor said.
The Vice-Chancellor led the delegation to the WACCI farm where the visiting team was received by Professor Pangirayi Tongoona, the lead maize breeder at WACCI. On display at the farm were harvested ears of four promising maize hybrids, WACCI-M-1210; WACCI-M-1205; WACCI-M-1218 and WACCI-M-1508 due for release. Professor Tongoona informed the visiting team that the National Variety Release and Registration Committee was to visit for final inspection of the varieties for release and for recommendation to the National Seeds Council for Registration. He said that the commercialization of the maize hybrids will increase maize productivity in Ghana and this will in turn improve the livelihoods of Ghanaian farmers and help decline the projected food insecurity/shortage in the year 2020.
Professor Pangirayi Tongoona welcoming the Ambassador and other University officials to the WACCI farm
Ambassador Kaoru Yoshimura said he was impressed with the maize hybrids and hoped that a strategy would be put in place to make quality hybrid seeds available to farmers for increased productivity. He said that he was delighted to see tangible outputs from the WACCI project in a short time and assured the University of his support. He commended the University for its contribution to the national development.
Others present during the visit of the delegation were: Prof. Daniel Asiedu, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Professor Kwadwo Ofori, Deputy Director; Dr. Daniel K. Dzidzienyo; Prof. Godfred Bopkin, University of Ghana Business and Ambassador of Goodwill, WACCI, Dr. Daniel Dzidzienyo, Coordinator, Anglophone Africa, WACCI, Dr. Agyemang Danquah, Coordinator, Curriculum Development and Teaching Programmes; Dr. Beatrice E. Ife, Maize Breeder; and Dr. John S. Y. Eleblu, Coordinator of Research, Francophone Africa.