Scholarship supports future vegetable breeder

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Accra-Basel, 4 October. The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) today announced a second Ph.D. scholarship from the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA). The award supports a doctorate in vegetable breeding. Running from 2019-2022, the scholarship is worth $134’000. The SFSA donation commemorates ten years of partnership between the two organizations.

The Syngenta Foundation, based in Switzerland, created its first WACCI scholarship for 2015-2018.  The inaugural scholarship for the 2015-2018 Academic Period was awarded to Leander Dede Melomey, a Ph.D. candidate in Tomato Breeding, whose work focuses on development of high yielding tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) variety with resistance to Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Disease (TYLCD).  Leander, who is from Ghana, will be completing her Ph.D. at the end of this year. “The scholarship from SFSA has been the single biggest contribution to my education. I count myself lucky to be the first recipient of the scholarship to study at WACCI. I am even happier that my research will be a big contributor to advancing knowledge in tomato breeding in Ghana” said Leander.

The new 10th Anniversary Scholarship turns from tomatoes to a broad choice of vegetables. WACCI will select the scholar and study crop based on an extensive list of criteria.

Dr. Vivienne Anthony, a Senior Scientific Advisor at SFSA, says: “We are supporting vegetable breeding in order to tackle malnutrition and improve productivity, livelihoods and food security. In particular, we want to enable public breeders to serve the needs of smallholders and their customers even better.”

“We aim to sustain and extend our position as a premier education and innovation Centre for Africa and beyond”, says WACCI Director Dr. Eric Danquah. “To do so, we need to attract and develop the best scientific talent. We want to prepare the next generation of crop breeders from Africa for Africa.”

Commenting on the presentation of the second scholarship, Dr. Danquah noted: ”WACCI’s mission revolves around innovative solutions for agriculture transformation in Africa.”

Executive Director of SFSA, Dr. Simon Winter, says “the future of African food and nutrition security depends on increasing the sophistication of its agricultural sector, and, that in turn depends on opportunities to identify and provide support to develop the best talent on the continent.  Our Foundation is humbled to make a modest contribution to that goal.”

About the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI)
WACCI is a Centre of Excellence established in June 2007 as a partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell University, USA, with funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Working with national, regional and international partners, WACCI trains plant breeders and seed scientists to address challenges in African agriculture.

About the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA)
SFSA creates value for smallholders in developing countries through innovations and the activation of value chains. SFSA focuses on Access to Seeds, Agriservices and Risk Management. A major thrust of its R&D programme is Demand-Led Breeding.