The maiden conference of the  African Plant Breeders Association  was three weeks ago  hosted  at the  West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana. The event saw scientists, researchers, policy makers, students and professionals in the science and agricultural disciplines across the continent and beyond seeking to share knowledge, build partnerships, generate and publicize solutions to modernize breeding programmes for the transformation of agriculture in Africa. The three day conference also recorded 421 participants from 30 different countries.
An earlier statement by the Association said , “If Africa is to achieve SDG 2, it has to adopt a different strategy. The growth and expansion of the plant breeding profession provides an opportunity to deal with some of these big challenges faced by African countries to increase domestic food supply”.
PhD student Modupe Ayilara who is researching on underutilised legumes at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and participated in the conference said “The 2019 APBA maiden conference is one of a kind. It was a very interesting and an educating one. I’m happy I met people from different parts of the the continent and even outside Africa who are embedded with knowledge. It has opened more room for collaborations and I wish to carry out more research and have something new to present at the next APBA conference”. She added that the conference has given her the platform to learn more from other researchers, an opportunity she wouldn’t have had on her own.
The Interim president of the APBA and director of WACCI, Professor Eric Agyemang Danquah , at the end of the event thanked all participants and partners and urged all to  contribute their quota in achieving excellence in the breeding field in Africa.
Research Scientist at the University of Cape Coast, Frank Essem told Love For Science the conference was by far the best he’s participated in. He added that, “Meeting some of the brightest brains in the field of crop and seed improvement was a chance I was never going to miss and I must say that it didn’t disappoint. On a personal level, I learned a lot from modern tools in breeding  including techniques in speed breeding to different types of statistical tools being used all across the globe by breeders. The deliveries made by the various presenters during the seminars were excellent and insightful. I also got the chance to interact with elite scientists on a one-on-one basis leading to the establishment of much-needed links and collaborations”. He further added that he  wouldn’t want to substitute the conference for anything and hopes to attend the second edition in Uganda.
The next APBA is announced to take place at Makarere University in Uganda from 27th to 29th October 2021. Director for Makerere University Regional Centre of Excellence in Crop Improvement (MaRCCI), Dr. Richard Edema welcomed everybody and assured them a great conference in 2021. He said “We are happy to be hosting this amazing conference in 2021, Uganda is ready and Makarere welcomes all of you to the next APBA conference”.
By: Dennis Baffour-Awuah