The University of Ghana (UG) West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) accredited by Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation of Study Programs (AQAS) in Germany
Prof. Danquah with the delegation in group photograph
The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana has received international accreditation for its postgraduate programmes from the Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation of Study Programs (AQAS), Germany, a noted body for accreditation of higher education institutions and programmes.
The panel of experts made up of Prof. Dr. 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 University of Ghana from March 12-16, 2018 to inspect facilities and hold discussions with the Management of the University of Ghana and WACCI, and stakeholders following an assessment of a Self-Evaluation Report submitted by WACCI to AQAS.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu in a group photograph with the delegation from AQAS and WACCI during the visit to the University
Based on the report of the expert panel and the discussions of the Accreditation Commission at its 71st meeting on May 14-15 2018, the Accreditation Commission decided that the programmes, Seed Science and Technology (MPhil) and Plant Breeding (PhD) offered by the University were accredited according to the AQAS criteria for Programme Accreditation. In a letter to the Centre, signed by Dr. Dorothee Groeger, the accreditation has been given for the period of six years and valid until September 2024.
Obviously elated by this decision, Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, Director of WACCI indicated that with this accreditation, it opens doors for strategic collaborations with institutions in Europe, adding that it fits directly into the centre's desire to become a top-tier plant breeding educational institution in the world. “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 noted.
In a congratulatory note to WACCI, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro-Owusu noted that the accreditation is a perfect indication of what the interplay of knowledge, determination and great focus can achieve. While extending congratulations to WACCI, the Vice-Chancellor said he was looking forward to the very “height” that is befitting for WACCI.
Established in 2007, WACCI has trained 52 PhD students equipped with knowledge and skills to improve various staple crops and become game changers in national agricultural research institutions across the sub-region.
WACCI, which is one of the World Bank African Centres of Excellence currently runs the largest PhD in plant breeding educational programme in Africa with 62 students at various stages of training. Current faculty research at WACCI is focused on maize, cowpea, soybean, cassava, yam, potato and tomato.
In 2017, three climate smart, improved hybrid maize varieties yielding between 9 and 11 tonnes per hectare had been released by WACCI compared to the average 1.5 tonnes of maize per hectare farmers in Ghana produce. These varieties are currently being scaled up for commercialization in Ghana in partnership with the private sector.
Prof. Danquah is confident the international accreditation would help increase capacity at the centre to boost research and help ensure food security in the sub-region. “We see our work impacting food and nutrition security in Ghana and beyond in the next few years. We believe Ghana and Africa beyond aid agenda would not be a mirage if governments invest heavily in the food value chains. Innovation should be a priority, let’s dedicate some funds for innovations and challenge our scientists to deliver,” he noted.
In a response to the news of WACCI receiving the international accreditation, Andreas Blom, Team Leader at the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence Project said this is; “an indisputable testament to the quality of WACCI’s education”.
According to Joseph DeVries, Vice President in charge of Programme Development and Innovation at the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), “WACCI is getting into a class of its own”.