Abuja - The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at training plant breeders in Africa.
A statement issued in Abuja on Monday by IITA said that the agreement was a strategic move to boost the number of indigenous plant breeders, which would help to address the issue of food security in the continent.
``Under the agreement, WACCI, a centre at the University of Ghana, will send postgraduate students to IITA for three years to carry out research in plant breeding.
``The students will have access to IITA facilities and will be supervised by senior IITA scientists.''
According to the statement, WACCI and IITA see the alliance as a panacea that will halt the dwindling number of plant breeders in Africa.
``African breeders will be trained on the problems facing African crops with the hope that they will remain in Africa.
``We need an African approach to address Africa’s food productivity challenges, ” the statement quoted Prof. Eric Danquah, Director of WACCI as saying.
According to the statement, both WACCI and IITA plan to evolve better strategies to address the numerous problems that limit food productivity in the continent.
It said that the alliance would give birth to a new set of plant breeders that would spear-head Africa’s goal of attaining food sustainability and having its own ``Green Revolution’’'.
WACCI was established in 2007 as a centre for crop improvement similar to the Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
IITA, established 45 years ago, is Africa’s leading research partner, having trained more than 74,000 people in Africa and elsewhere.
The centre recruits students from national agricultural systems of 15 countries across East, West, and Southern Africa.
To date, 42 doctoral students from 11 countries have graduated from WACCI, 128 students have been enrolled in both centres and a further 30 will be enrolled in the next 2 to 3 years.
The graduates have already released 23 new crop varieties in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, and Burkina Faso, and have published 85 research papers internationally, the statement said.