Low agricultural productivity in Eastern and Southern Africa has led to recurrent chronic food insecurity, poor nutrition, and widespread poverty that continue to affect a significant proportion of the population. This low productivity is due to a number of factors key among which include use of unimproved crop varieties; biotic and abiotic stresses; a lack of access to quality seeds, feriilaizer, and other inputs; and poor agronomic practices. Conversely, the use of improved crop varieties by Africa’s smallholder farmers can substantially boost their production in response to local and international demand for food and nutritional security. However, there is a critical shortage of well-trained crop scientists and plant breeders at graduate level to develop and deploy improved crop varieties. This is exacerbated by the fact that plant breeding techniques are crop specific and thus, the need for diverse expertise and professionals to address crop improvement challenges for multiple crops and agro climatic zones in the region. The recently instituted Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) will strengthen and expand the regional MSc and PhD programs in Plant Breeding, Biotechnology and Seed Systems. This initiative is to be implemented under the auspices of the African Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE 11) supported by respective National Governments through a Development Facility from the World Bank. The expected outputs of the MaRCCI effort include stronger regional Masters and PhD programs in Plant Breeding, Biotechnology and Seed Systems, improved curriculum and delivery, at least 70 highly trained PhD and MSc plant scientists, targeted research that is relevant to the region’s agriculture, and a strengthened training and research capacity that serves the wider Africa continent.
Date of publication:
827 - 835
RUFORUM Working document series
Agris Subject Categories: