Prof Eric Danquah Awarded 2022 Africa Food Prize at AGRF Summit

By Grace Musimami

Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah is the winner of the 2022 Africa Food Prize, he beats over 300 nominees from across Africa. Danquah has been awarded the $100,000 prize tonight at a dinner gala by President Paul Kagame and His Excellency Olusegen Obasanjo the chair of the africa food prize commitee. the Award is a key hieghlight event of the AGRF2022 Summit being held 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 center 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 H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo (outgoing Chair), Dr. Vera Songwe, Dr. Eleni Z. Gabre- Madhin,  Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg, Mr. Birama Sidibé ,Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, Dr Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, and supported by the secretariat head Boaz Blackie Keizire.

Announcing the winner His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo said the committee has to provide Africa with the best persons who have impacted on the continental transformation. :

“It is a great privilege to be able to honor 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 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.” Said Obasanjo.

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

About The Africa Food Prize

The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent award recognizing 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 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.

The Prize Committee considers the following criteria for the Prize:

  • Contribution to reducing poverty and hunger and/or improving food and nutrition security in measurable terms
  • Contribution to providing a vital source of income and/or employment in measurable terms
  • Potential for transformative change through scalability, replication, and sustainability
  • Increased awareness and cooperation among African audiences and organizations

About:

Eric Yirenkyi Danquah is a Ghanaian plant geneticist, professor, founding director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) and former director of the Biotechnology Centre at the University of Ghana.

Danqyah addressing the media

Danquah attended Akosombo Experimental School (1964-1972), and the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School (PRESEC) in Legon (1972-1979). He graduated with a BSc in Agriculture (Crop Science) from the University of Ghana in 1984.[1] He then worked as an intern at a dairy and cereals farm in Germany, before returning to Ghana to complete his national service with the Ghana Education Service. He completed an MPhil in plant breeding at the Department of Applied Biology at the University of Cambridge on a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Shared Scholarship.[1]

In November 1987, he returned to Ghana and worked for two years in the Department of Crop Science at the University of Ghana, before returning to the University of Cambridge in October 1989 as a Commonwealth Scholar for his PhD research in the laboratory of John Barrett in the Department of Genetics, which he completed in June 1993.

n 2007, Danquah became the Founding Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) 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”.[1][5] In its first ten years, WACCI attracted more than $30M US dollars of R&D funding, and trained more than 120 PhD and 49 MPhil students in Seed Science and Technology from 19 African countries.[6][7] 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

Africa Agricultural Journalists Network

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