World Agriculture Prize winner is Cornell partner

Eric Yirenkyi Danquah

Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, a plant geneticist from the University of Ghana, was awarded the 2018 World Agriculture Prize in Nanjing, China, Oct. 28, in recognition of his success in founding and directing the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) from 2007 to 2018. A leading educational center for plant breeders and seed scientists in Ghana, WACCI is a partnership of International Programs in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS) and the University of Ghana.

Danquah partnered closely with Cornell in establishing WACCI 11 years ago.

“Professor Dr. Eric Danquah has been the driving force behind the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement, training the next generation of African plant breeders in Africa for Africa,” said Ronnie Coffman, director of IP-CALS, who nominated Danquah for the award. “This is a breakthrough effort to establish and sustain the science needed for the improvement of lives and livelihoods in rural Africa.”

In leading WACCI, Danquah received support from public and private stakeholders, including the University of Ghana, the Rockefeller Foundation, Cornell University, the Program for Africa’s Green Revolution, the West Africa Rice Development Association and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Dr. Danquah is a renowned educator and exceptional leader,” said Coffman. “Eric’s global impact will be evidenced well into the future because of WACCI’s success at promoting the careers of up-and-coming plant breeders. … Making the most of young people’s potential is the planet’s best hope for survival.”

The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences and Nanjing Agricultural University established the World Agriculture Prize in 2013 to recognize a faculty member from an agricultural and life science university who has significantly contributed to the mission of the university through education, research and knowledge transfer for the benefit of society. Danquah is the first African to be awarded the prize.

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Lindsey Knewstub