Elain Azu

The closest I came to farming was perhaps my grandmother s pepper and tomato plants in the backyard of our home. It never crossed my mind that I would pursue a career in agriculture! As a childI told my parents I wanted to be a gynecologist. With hindsightI think I was trying to 'impressthem and I just liked the word 'gynecologist .

Most of the time howeverI wanted to be a lawyer. But in 1996 whilst standing in a queue in front of the headmistressoffice at St. Rose s Secondary SchoolI decided on the spur of the moment to study Science.  In the year 2000 to 2004I found myself at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasistudying Biological Sciences. In 2006I was back in the classroom studying for an MPhil in Nuclear Agriculture (Biotechnology and Mutation Breeding). During this timeI grew to appreciate the work of the farmer. For my thesisI worked on developing an efficient protocol for in vitro regeneration of sugarcane as a means of supplying large numbers of clean planting material for farmers and as a pre-requisite for genetic transformation of the crop. This work was initiated as part of efforts by my institute BNARI to provide large quantities of clean planting material for sugarcane farmers at Kyebi and Jejeti. Since thenI have recognized the need to conduct relevant research that improves food security and enhances rural livelihoods of the marginalized in my country. For my PhDI have chosen to work on sorghum because it is grown predominantly by smallholder farmers in northern Ghana where poverty and malnutrition are major threats to lives. Although it is still largely a subsistence food cropit has the potential to drive the economic development of these farmers. My research will focus on the elucidation of the geneticbiochemical and biological factors that impact traits of agronomic importance to these farmers and to West and Central Africa as a whole. My long term goal is to develop sorghum lines with improved resistance to drought and Striga through the use of marker assisted breeding. I hope to contribute to greater food security and improved livelihoods for resource-poor sorghum farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.  WACCI gives me the opportunity. For mebeing a beneficiary of the AGRA scholarship to study at WACCI is divine. I am studying in my own country whilst being exposed to some of the best resources in the world. Most of allI have the opportunity to contribute to African research. I cannot thank God enough.