Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah is the winner of the 2018 World Agriculture Prize. This wonderful news was announced in Nanjing China on October 28, 2018 during the 9th World Conference of the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for the Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA). The Prize aims to encourage the development of the mission of higher education institutions in education, research, innovation and outreach in the agricultural and life sciences by recognizing the distinguished contribution of an individual to this mission.
At AGRA we congratulate Prof. Danquah for this well-deserved recognition. Prof. Danquah, is Professor of Plant Genetics, and the Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI). Before the establishment of WACCI, the nation of Ghana had 12 active plant breeders developinng products needed in the nation, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria had 18, 7, 3 and 25 respectively. In the meantime, the seed industry in the West Africa region had stagnated with no new quality seeds of improved varieties being released for the smallholder farmer.
When AGRA through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation funded the University of Ghana and Cornell University to establish the West African Centre for Crop Improvement, they could never have found better leadership than the one provided by Professor Eric Danquah, the Director of WACCI for the last 11 years.
Prof. Danquah had a clear vision of how to take the training of Plant Breeders to the next level. This vision paved the way for high quality training of plant breeders in the region and beyond. In no time, the impact of this training began to be felt in Ghana and in the neigbouring countires, with West Africa registering the release of 175 improved varieties from 5 crops (maize, cowpeas, irrigated rice, millet and sorghum) that could be adopted in most agro-ecologies of the region.Prof. Danquah’s excellent leadership, focus, passion and a well-earned international reputation have created much visibility to his work in the region and, consequently, that of institutions that partner with WACCI such as AGRA.
We are proud to be asscoiated with Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah and continue to provoke him to move forward.