The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) of the University of Ghana, has received approval and recommendation from the National Variety Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for three new hybrid maize varieties developed by Centre to be released onto the market for cultivation and consumption.
The three new WACCI hybrid maize varieties are WACCI-M-1205, WACCI-M-1210 and WACCI-M-1218. These hybrids are the first ever hybrid maize seeds to be produced by a university in the history of Ghana.
NVRRC Team members inspecting the New Hybrid Maize in a farm
The varieties, which are now waiting to be gazetted by the National Seed Council are the result of eight years of extensive research and on-farm trials at Legon, Wenchi and Tamale; which represent three main major agro-ecological zones in Ghana.
The initial funding for the project was from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and later by Scaling Seeds and Technology Programme (SSTP) of AGRA.
The white maize hybrids have yielded above nine tonnes per hectare in regions where moisture stress was not a problem. Areas like the Coastal Savanna and the transitional zones were ideal for maximum productivity of these hybrids.
Mr. Seth Osei-Akoto, the Chairman of the NVRRC, made the announcement of the approval and recommendation of the new WACCI maize hybrids after the Committee's final validation meeting at the University of Ghana. Mr. Osei-Akoto, who is also the Acting Director for Crop Services Directorate, MoFA noted the nation's challenge was how to get improved seed varieties for farmers adding that the NVRRC was looking for varieties that were high yielding, which could be promoted for the benefits of farmers in the country. He was therefore full of praise for WACCI for the innovation and further urged the Centre to put up a promotion and marketing strategy to ensure that the seeds reach farmers in the country for cultivation.
Prof. Eric Danquah, Director of WACCI said the approval marked an important milestone in the life of WACCI as this is the first time that a university in Ghana has made such a significant contribution to the development of Agriculture by releasing maize hybrids to farmers.
He said even under farmers' conditions, the hybrids produce higher yields than all of the varieties and called on government to support WACCI to scale-up the breeding project to promote the release of better varieties. Prof. Danquah said quality improved seeds are the bedrock of government's policy of "Planting for Food and Jobs" stressing that it is only quality research underpinned by science and innovation that can take Ghana forward.
Prof. Danquah expressed his gratitude to his team for the achievement. The WACCI hybrid maize research team includes Prof. Pangirayi B. Tongoona, Dr Beatrice E. Ifie, Mr Amos R. Azinu, Dr Daniel K. Dzidzienyo, Dr John S. Y. Eleblu, Dr Agyemang Danquah, Prof. Kwame Offei (current Pro-Vice Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs) and Prof. Eric. Danquah
Dr. Robert Agyeibi Asuboah, the Acting Executive Director of Grains and Legumes Development Board, MoFA, commended the University of Ghana for being the first university in the country to produce hybrid varieties of maize. He said maize is the main staple food of the country therefore research institutions and the universities must take its research very seriously.
Prof. Tongoona said the release of the new hybrids would increase yields, farmer's livelihoods and the local seed sector in Ghana.
Madam Evelyn Anfu, the Deputy Country Coordinator, SSTP, said the new hybrid maize varieties would go a long way to contribute to the success of government's "Planting for Foods and Jobs" programme.
Mr. Patrick Osofo Apullah, the President of Seeds Producers Association of Ghana, emphasized the need for high yielding seed varieties that are climate-change friendly.