WEST AFRICA – The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), has entered into a partnership with Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and other research institutions to bolster growth in the agriculture sector.

The partnership seeks to catalyse agriculture intensification and economic transformation by addressing issues concerning crop and soil health in Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

Other key partners include Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) and research institutions across the sub-Saharan Africa.

The Syngenta Foundation is a non-profit organisation that seeks to create value for resource small farmers in developing countries through innovation in sustainable agriculture and the activation of value chains.

According to WACCI, a partnership between the University of Ghana (UG) and Cornell University, USA and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the initiative will be coordinated from the University of Ghana.

The initiative is aimed at addressing issues related to the food security objectives through sustainable crop production intensification and the delivery of research outputs for direct yield improvements on-farm.

“The challenge to be surmounted through this initiative is to empower and support African farmers to increase farm yields of key food security crops,” WACCI said in a statement.

“Farmers will be trained through some participatory approaches such as farmer field schools, value chain workshops and exposed to the use of superior germplasm/improved seeds that are adaptable to the changing climates, tolerant to abiotic stresses with resistance to prevailing pests and diseases.

WACCI underscored the need to empower farmers across the continent noting that this requires the development of resources necessary for breeding efficiency.

The centre said that this can be achieved through “effective genetic resource management, pre-breeding, and mapping and introgression of genes of agronomic importance into farmer preferred varieties.

“Tracer studies on prevailing farm yields will be carried out and yields compared with baseline data collected on same farms owned by the same farmers before the farmer field schools and value chains workshops.”

As part of its efforts to support investments in the agriculture sector, the Syngenta Foundation in partnership with AGRA has launched a six-year US$60 million funding scheme to private seed companies in Ghana.

This program seeks to address the funding gap in seed companies to enhance production of improved seeds.