Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah of Ghana wins 2022 Africa Food Prize

Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah

Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah has been announced the winner of the 2022 Africa Food Prize at the AGRF2022 Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent annual award that recognizes outstanding individuals or institutions that are leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa.

A release issued to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday, in Accra, said Prof. Danquah had been celebrated for his outstanding expertise, leadership and grantsmanship skills that led to the establishment and development of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) as a world class centre for training plant breeders in Africa for Africa.

Prof. Danquah is a Ghanaian plant geneticist, Professor, Founding Director of the WACCI and former director of the Biotechnology Centre at the University of Ghana.

He founded the WACCI in 2007 at the University of Ghana, with the “aim of training a new generation of plant breeders to develop improved varieties of staple crops in West and Central Africa”.

The release said through his leadership, WACCI attracted more than $30 million of research and development funding and trained more than 120 PhD and 49 MPhil students in Seed Science and Technology from 19 African countries.

It said that led to more than 60 improved seed varieties, including superior maize hybrid varieties, which would help boost yield for farmers and contribute towards food and nutrition security.

“Today, the institution boasts of a new molecular biology/tissue culture laboratory, a bioinformatics platform, and cutting-edge university farms, including a $300,000 ultra-modern screen house for controlled experiments.

According to the release, this year’s winner selection was a reflection of the importance of promoting science and technology as tools to develop solutions for sustainable food systems.

“The winner was chosen by a preeminent judging panel of leaders in African agriculture, comprising Africa Food Prize Committee President Olusegun Obasanjo (outgoing Chair), Dr. Vera Songwe, Dr. Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin, Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg, Mr. Birama Sidibé, Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, and Dr Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli.

President Olusegun Obasanjo said, “it is a great privilege to be able to honour and shine a spotlight on the truly remarkable achievements of Dr. Danquah. His leadership in genetic innovation inspires the future of food security and nutrition in Africa and has made a tangible difference to how a new generation is working to improve African food systems.”

He said Dr Danquah had been and continued to be a true inspiration for many young minds. “On behalf of the African Food Prize Committee, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations and appreciation for his continuing endeavors.”

Prof Danquah said the award recognised the crucial work they did to train crop researchers at the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement.

“I am honored by the award, and the commendation of the role of research and science in Africa's approach to agriculture.”

He noted that the time had come for more first-class scientists by Africans in Africa for Africa, in collaboration with global partners to change the narrative on agriculture on the continent, saying “without genetic innovation driven by good science, our vision for resilient food systems will tarry.”

The Africa Food Prize 2022 was sponsored by Corteva, Kenya Commercial Bank, UPL and AGRA.

The WACCI, a World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence, was established in 2007 through a partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell University with funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to train plant breeders at the PhD level at the University of Ghana.

The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent award recognising an outstanding individual or institution that is leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa—from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives.

The $100,000 prize celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda. It puts a spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.

Source: GNA

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