By Chancy Namadzunda:
Eric Yirenkyi Danquah was today 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.
Eric Yirenkyi Danquah has 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.
Danquah is a Ghanaian plant geneticist, professor, founding director of the WACCI and former director of the Biotechnology Centre at the University of Ghana.
Danquah 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”.
Through his leadership, WACCI attracted more than $30M US dollars of research and develpment funding and trained more than 120 PhD and 49 MPhil students in Seed Science and Technology from 19 African countries.
This led to more than 60 improved seed varieties, including superior maize hybrid varieties, which will 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 US$300,000 ultra-modern screen house for controlled experiments.
This year’s winner selection is 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 and Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, Dr Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli.
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 has made a tangible difference to how a new generation is working to improve African food systems.
He has been, and continues 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.”
The Africa Food Prize 2022 was sponsored by Corteva, Kenya Commercial Bank, UPL and AGRA.
The US $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.