Fund research to address food insecurity in the sub-region, crop improvement don urges

ECOWAS countries should invest in research funding to address the issue of food security, the Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana, Professor Eric Y. Danquah, has urged.

The don said the sub-region needs scientists focussed on national breeding programmes, and that the private sector in their home countries needs to develop improved varieties of staple crops needed for food security, sustainability and economic development.

Prof Danquah made the appeal during a presentation at the World Bank’s Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) project meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, which brought together over 100 eminent academics and researchers from the sub-region.

Food security is a major challenge in West and Central Africa, due to a number of constraints resulting in low breeding capacity, low productivity, and a mix of factors, including high population growth rates, deteriorating soils, land grabs, water scarcity and climate change, which are putting pressure on global food supply systems.

The WACCI Director said that food insecurity is a chronic problem that is likely to worsen in the coming decades.

He added that there were limited human resources with the skills and expertise to develop the improved varieties urgently needed in farmers’ fields. As a result, the majority of farmers rely on their own varieties, which are low yielding and susceptible to a-biotic and biotic stresses.

Prof Danquah said WACCI was established to address the shortage of plant breeders in the sub-region, with initial funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, at the University of Ghana, to train plant breeders at PhD level with the aim of improving the sub-region’s indigenous crops.

He said plant breeding is widely recognised as a means for increasing agricultural productivity by improving genetic make-up.

Source: GNA Special Correspondent in Abuja

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