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Strengthening Agricultural Research and Partnerships through ACE Impact Project 

Agriculture and it's importance to Africa

Considered to be the backbone of the economic systems of developing countries, agriculture is the mainstay of several African economies, underpinning their food security, export earnings, rural development, and economic stability.Given the enormous importance of Agriculture to Africa’s economic development, the ACE Impact project prioritizes agriculture and has it as one of the five thematic areas being supported by the project.

The agricultural sector in Africa accounts for a large share of gross domestic product (GDP) -(ranging from 30% to 60% in approx. two thirds of them), employs a proportion of the labor force, represents a major source of foreign exchange (from 25 % to as much as 95% in three-quarters of the countries), supplies the bulk of basic food, and provides subsistence and other income to a fraction of the population (FAO Report, 2012).

The African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) posits that the Agric sector offers the greatest potential for poverty and inequality reduction, as it provides sources of productivity from which the most disadvantaged people working in the sector should benefit.

ACE Impact Contributions to Agriculture 

The project has seven Agric-oriented centers focusing on areas including Food security and nutrition, Livestock and Poultry science, Food technology and research, Dryland Agriculture, Crop Improvement, Climate change/ biodiversity, and Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Click here to see ACE Impact agriculture centres  

The ACE Impact Agric focused centres have been undertaking impactful research (leading to the publication of 343 Research findings in high impact journals, and still counting), collaborating with international, regional, and national institutions to innovate and strengthen Agriculture’s contribution to their national and regional economies.  

Food for West Africa Network

In line with strengthening Inter-ACE collaborations, various thematic networks have been created under the ACE Impact Project. The Food for West Africa (FOOD4WA) is one of eight thematic networks established with the aim of advancing collaboration on cutting-edge research, to address food insecurity challenges within the region. The networks’ objectives are:

  1. To establish a network between faculty and students from the participating ACEs 

  1. Create a coordination of research on priority themes related to food security 

  1. Communicate the results of research and innovation through conferences and symposia involving key actors in the agricultural sector 

  1. Create a digital platform  
    Find out more about ACE Impact project engagement with Agriculture here 

WACCI spearheads the adoption of game-changing hybrid tomato varieties
Ensuring sustainable agriculture for the future
Three hybrid tomato varieties developed by the World Vegetable Centre  are being considered for release in Ghana following multilocational trials and submission to the National Variety Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC), Ministry of Food and Agriculture by the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI).

Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, the Director of WACCI, in an address during a visit by the NVRRC to WACCI charged the Government of Ghana to invest in the agriculture commodity value chain to ensure that “game-changing” crop varieties such as these new tomato hybrids get to farmers across Ghana within the shortest possible time. “If you do not invest in the tomato value chain, these varieties will not go to the farmers in good time. That should not be the case”, Prof. Danquah said.
In his address, Mr. Seth Osei-Akoto, Chairman of the NVRRC highlighted how impressed he was with WACCI’s growth over the past years and praised the Centre for these new tomato hybrids. He charged scientists to develop strategies to understand the farmers needs and develop varieties that could meet those demands.
Read more
CDA Develops Seven New Early Growth Groundnut Seeds for African Farmers  

The Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) of Bayero University Kano (BUK) has developed seven early growth groundnut seeds for farmers. The centre also unveiled improved seed varieties of sorghum, beans and millet at the centre’s Farmers’ Field Day held on Wednesday, 6th October, 2021. Several factors have been identified as the reason of rapid decline in groundnut production in Nigeria such as drought, rosette virus, general neglect of agriculture due to oil boom, and lack of organized input. However, the CDA in collaboration with International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Zaria, and Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), sponsored by Bill and Melinda Foundation took the challenge to revive the production of groundnut by providing new improved seeds to farmers for sustainable production under the AVISA Project. 

“The seeds are pests and diseases resistant, grow early and lead to bumper harvests. If these seed varieties are used, farmers have the potential of yielding bigger harvests from the same lands they are using the traditional seed varieties. The groundnut we developed for instance has the dual purpose of more crop yield and bigger leaves that could be used as animal feed,”
Director of CDA, Professor Jibrin Muhammad Jibrin
ACE IN FOCUS
Profiling the Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) in Nigeria 

The Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER), hosted by the Benue State University, Nigeria is one of the seven (7) centres of excellence dedicated to addressing agriculture related challenges within the region. 
The centre seeks to develop a critical mass of well-trained future African agricultural scientists in the control of post-harvest losses, empower African researchers to identify technologies through applied research for reducing pot-harvest losses and engage farmers, communities, and industries in training and dissemination of technologies in post-harvest food losses across the sub-region. CEFTER aims to address the challenge of post-harvest losses in the West Africa sub region through quality higher education and innovative and applied research. 

Programmes offered include Post-harvest Management and Physiology of Crops; Food Chemistry; Analytical Chemistry; Organic/ Natural Products Chemistry; Food Science and Technology; Food Processing Technology; Rural Sociology and Agricultural Extension; Radiation and Medical Physics. Three programmes are internationally accredited by the High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES). The centre also has a food processing factory facilitating the Government of Nigeria’s School Feeding Program. 
Read more here 
Visit the centre's website
WACCI Director Calls for 'More Brains' to Secure the Future of the Seed Industry
 Prof Eric Danquah, Director, West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI)

Professor Eric Danquah, Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana has made a call for the training of a critical mass of plant breeders to secure the future of the seed industry in Africa. This call was made on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, during a visit by H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Board Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), to WACCI. Addressing the delegation, Professor Danquah highlighted the benefits of training African plant breeders and seed scientists in Africa in the race against time to eradicate food insecurity by 2030.

“WACCI has one of the highest outputs of PhD graduates in plant breeding education in the world over the past 14 years. It costs significantly less to train our students at home. Our students have gone on to release improved varieties of staple crops and have raised funds for their research institutions.  Prof. Danquah stated.

H.E. Desalegn commended WACCI for its achievements over the past 14 years in building the necessary human capacity, as well as conducting innovative and impact-driven research needed to drive food security and agricultural development in Africa. 

“WACCI is now much more important than ever because of the food challenges facing Africa”, H.E. Desalegn said. Desalegn and Prof Danquah and H.E. Desalegn with the WACCI team and AGRA officials.
Find out more here
Djibouti Participates in the Young African Scientific Talent Prgroamme in Paris
The Centre of Excellence for Transport and Logistics (CEALT) hosted by the University of Djibouti was represented in the African Scientific Talents at the City of Science and Industry in Paris from 17th  to 22nd October 2021. Dr Abdou Idris Omar, a researcher and lecturer at the university represented the centre in a unique opportunity to interact with fellow researchers, and explore prospects for future collaborations. Dr. Omar was among the 32 young African scientists, 15 women and 17men under the age of 35 from 20 African countries selected to participate in the event.
Find out more here 
The 6th ACE Impact Regional Workshop Ends Successfully 



The 6th biannual Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Regional Workshop was held virtually from November 8- 10, 2021f, bringing together over 300 participants from the fifty-three (53) Centres of Excellence, government representatives from participating countries, Vice-Chancellors, policy think tanks, and partners such as the World Bank, the French Development Agency, and the Association of African Universities, as well as other key stakeholders. 

The workshop sought to strengthen the capacity of the African Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE Impact centres) by highlighting the key achievements of the various centres and also addressing the challenges faced.
Read more here

STUDENT VOICES - Howélé Michaëlle Toure, the future of plant pathology 
Climate change research seldom focuses on plant pathology. An agronomy enthusiast with a keen interest in this topic in particular, Howélé Michaëlle Toure wanted to change that. She secured a scholarship and enrolled in a research program at the African Center of Excellence for Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Agriculture (CEA-CCBAD).

Howélé decided to focus her research on cassava, a tuber that is widely consumed throughout West and Central Africa. Cassava, which is critical to the country’s food security, is also one of the priority crops listed in the National Agricultural Development Plan (PNDA). “I conducted a case study on the reaction of cassava bacterial blight in Côte d’Ivoire to weather changes and discovered that changes in the climate have an unpredictable impact on the manifestation of the disease. If these pathogenic bacteria were to adapt to these new climate conditions, they would pose a constant threat to cassava crops.” Howélé is currently working with CEA-CCBAD on a program designed to promote research on plant diseases and climate conditions.
Read Howélé full story here
Maximizing Your Digital Reach

Centre Website of the Month - Centre of Excellence for Mathematical Sciences, IT and Applications (CEA-SMIA). Congratulations to CEA-SMIA hosted by the Abomey Calavi University in Benin for its interactive and engaging website. Learn about their programs, check out their latest news, read testimonials from their alumni here.  Visit https://ceasma-benin.org/ for more. 

July - September Highlights
  1. ACE Impact CERPP team member’s contribution to Agronomy/Plant Breeding recognized as the project continues to promote professional development. Read more here 
  2. CDA Collaborates with partners to address food insecurity. Find out more here 
  3. CERSA shares its activities and vision with Regional Representation of La Francophonie based in Togo. Read more 
  4. Two ENSEA Students in Engineering Course in Statistics (ITS) to Compete in the Final of the IMF Fund Challenge. Read more
  5. CCM-ACECoR Scientists Co-Author Global Petition for Ban on Fisheries Subsidies. Check out petition here 
  6. Forty-one gained admission as ACETEL conducted 2nd Orientation for students. Learn more
  7. CERSA officials launches alumni association. Find out more here
  8. ACETEL is a trailblazer – Vice-Chancellor National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) said honour to have worked at Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL). Read more
  9. Le Comité National de Pilotage fait le point sur les centres d’excellence de l’Université de Lomé: Read more
  10. Consolidation de lien entre l’UL et l’UAC : Signature d’une entente-cadre - Read more
  11. L’association Alumni CERSA officiellement lancée. Read more 
  12. Une nouvelle thèse au CERSA propose une alternative aux antibiotiques dans l’alimentation des volailles Read more
  13. WAGMC Deputy Centre Leader, Prof. Lorna Awo Renner Receives the 2021 International Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award. Read more
  14. Director of WACCI, Prof Eric Danquah has been re-elected to serve as President of the African Plant Breeders Association following a Business Meeting on the final day of #APBAConf2021 on October 25 –29, 2021 in Rwanda 
  15. The Director of WACWISA, Ing. Prof. Felix K. Abagale has been appointed as the Pro VC Elect of the University for Development Studies, Ghana.
  16. (CERPP) of the Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey in Niger, celebrates the promotion of two members of its team to the rank of Full Professors of CAMES, Mrs. Dramé Yayé Aissetou and Mr. Amoukou Ibrahim. Congratulations to CERPPs two new professors. 
                           
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This newsletter is brought to you by:
 

Ekua Bentil                                          Himdat Bayusuf                                       Dr Sylvia Mkandawire
Education Specialist, World Bank       Education Specialist, World Bank            ACE Impact Project Manager
ACE Impact Co-Task Team Leader     ACE Impact Co-Task Team Leader         Association of African Universities

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