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  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
  • Global Development

At a stakeholder engagement meeting April 12 hosted by the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), Ronnie Coffman took the helm as chairman of WACCI’s International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), reinforcing the organization's commitment to driving agricultural transformation and ensuring food security across Africa.

Coffman, professor emeritus of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University, will lead a board tasked with providing guidance on WACCI's overall strategy in scientific quality, collaborations, and strategic partnerships. Coffman succeeds Eugene Terry, senior technical advisor for TransFarm USA, who chaired the board since its establishment in 2020 as part of the African Centres of Excellence (ACE) Impact Project, the first large-scale regional program funded by the World Bank in the higher education sector in Africa.

“As the inaugural board chair, Eugene Terry laid the strong foundation for WACCI’s widely acknowledged achievements in training plant breeders in Africa, by Africans, for Africa. I am honored to carry forward this vital endeavor alongside WACCI's leadership, dedicated to the education and training of successive generations of African plant breeders,” Coffman said.

Established in 2007 with support from Cornell University, WACCI has evolved into a premier agricultural research and training hub at the University of Ghana. Through pioneering programs, WACCI aims to drive agricultural transformation and enhance food security across Africa, nurturing a new generation of agricultural scientists and entrepreneurs, according to Eric Danquah, the founding director of WACCI and a professor at the University of Ghana.

The April event, titled "Seeds of Tomorrow: Cultivating Global Partnerships for Africa's Agricultural Renaissance," held in Washington, DC, convened agricultural science leaders from government, academia, and the private sector to deliberate on WACCI's initiatives.

Danquah, who has an adjunct professor position in Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, envisions a future for WACCI dedicated to strengthening crop resilience and fostering innovative agricultural practices. He said that the meeting is poised to shape the trajectory of agricultural development and food security in Africa, redefining agricultural excellence and resilience across the continent.

"Dr. Ronnie Coffman's leadership marks a pivotal chapter in our journey toward agricultural excellence," Danquah said. "With his extensive expertise and visionary approach, he is exceptionally positioned to guide WACCI as we innovate and strengthen the resilience of African agriculture. His commitment not only honors the legacy of his predecessor but also promises to propel us toward new horizons of impact and collaboration across the continent."

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