Ghanaian plant geneticist and professor, Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, has been awarded the 2022 Africa Food Prize at the AGRF2022 Summit which took place on the 7th of September, 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda.
He becomes the first Ghanaian to receive this prestigious award since the award’s establishment in 2005.
This recognition is coming on the heels of his amazing contribution to the growth of agriculture in Africa. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah is the founder of the West Africa Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI). This establishment is aimed at training a young generation of farmers to develop improved varieties of staple crops in West and Central Africa.
Through this initiative, the professor has been able to amass $30 million of research and development funding. He has also been able to train more than 120 Ph.D. and 49 MPhil students in Seed Science and Technology from 19 African countries.
In a congratulatory message, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo said: “The University of Ghana and I as Vice-Chancellor are extremely proud of Prof. Danquah”.
“His consistency and vision over the years of training African plant breeders for Africa has paid off. His leadership, fundraising and mentoring skills are extraordinary, and ought to be emulated. Prof. Danquah epitomizes the talent available at the University of Ghana with the potential of being game changers in Africa’s food sustainability, and development generally”.Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo
With new innovations being made every year in agriculture, Eric Yirenkyi Danquah decided to play his part via molecular science. Over the years the WACCI has been able genetically to enhance 60 seed varieties, effectively boosting productivity, yield, and nutritional value.
Currently, the WACCI boasts a new molecular biology/tissue culture laboratory, a bioinformatics platform, and state-of-the-art university farms including a US$300,000 ultra-modern screen house for controlled experiments.
Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah bags $100,000
In recognition of all this, Eric Yirenkyi Danquah was awarded the grand prize of $100,000. This award is given to those who have made a tremendous effort in improving the current state of agriculture in Africa.
The winner was selected by a prestigious panel, 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, and Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, Dr. Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli.
The president of the committee, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, said: “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 in 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.”H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo
The criteria the committee used in selecting the winner included: 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; and Increased awareness and cooperation among African audiences and organizations.