The West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI)of the University of Ghana will release at least three new high yielding varieties of maize to help boost production in West Africa. The three new varieties coded – WACCI-M-1210, WACC-M-1205 and WACCI-M-1218 had been tried in Legon and Wenchi and would be scaled-up for delivery to farmers once the National Variety Release Committee approves of their release.
These new varieties were unveiled by Professor Pangirayi Bernard Tongoona, the Associate Director for Breeding Programs at WACCI, at their research farm in Legon during the Centre’s Open Day.The WACCI-M-1210 grows to a height of about 2.5 metres, flowers within 56 days after planting, matures in 90-95 days after planting and gives a yield of about 10 tonnes per hectare.
The WACCI-M-1218 has a height of 1.5m, flowers in about 45 days after planting and matures in 80-85 days, and yields of 6-7 t/ha in Legon and Wenchi.WACCI-M-1508 has a height of 2.8m, flowers in 56 days and matures in 90-95 days with a yield of 9-10 tonnes per hectre.
Prof Tongoona said the new varieties of maize would contribute significantly to help address the problems of food insecurity in the sub-region.Prof Kwadwo Ofori, the Associate Director of Academic and Student Affairs, WACCI, said over the past four years the Centre had been topping the University of Ghana’s list of graduating postgraduate students at the PhD level.Dr Kwasi Ampofo, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA- Ghana) Country Head, said they were highly impressed about WACCI’s success story in both the training of PhD students and research.Dr Itai Makanda, the Deputy Chief of Party, Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership in Africa of AGRA, said following WACCI’s identification of some superior maize hybrids from the preliminary evaluations, his organisation, in 2015, gave the Centre additional funding to further test those hybrids in different agro ecologies in Ghana and recommend promising hybrids for release and commercialisation.He called on research institutes to come up with varieties of crops that were climate resistant and early maturing.Representatives of seed companies and farmers expressed their desire to have the varieties on the market as soon as possible.
The establishment of WACCI was inspired by the need to train new scientists required to develop high yielding varieties of indigenous crops adapted to the different agro ecologies in West Africa.In 2015 WACCI received additional funding from the SSTP-AGRA to further evaluate and release identified promising varieties.
In 2009 WACCI received a grant from AGRA to establish a model maize breeding program for the training of students in field oriented plant breeding techniques for West and Central Africa.