African Centre for Crop Improvement

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African Centre for Crop Improvement

“Training African Breeders on African Crops, in Africa”

model plant in the growth chamber


The international Demand-Led Breeding (DLB) working group with UKZN’s African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) hosted a series of webinars for the research and development community in Southern Africa. The aim is to create dialogues to strengthen plant breeding and to make the case for investing in demand-led plant breeding in Southern Africa.

Latest News

Malawi gets 3 improved pigeonpea varieties

Seeing the release of their improved varieties is the pinnacle of achievement for plant breeders, so we are always thrilled when our graduates manage to do this.

We are very proud of Dr Esnart Nirenda Yohane, who has released three new varieties of pigeonpea in Malawi.”

 The University of KwaZulu-Natal hosted their 2021 Spring Virtual Graduation Ceremony for the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) on the 24th of November 2021.

Wheat Breeding and Genetics Research Among Journal’s Top Cited Publications

Dr Learnmore Mwadzingeni (left) and Professor Hussein Shimelis

Professor Hussein Shimelis, Professor of Plant Breeding at UKZN, Deputy Director of the African Centre for Crop Improvement and South African Sugarcane Research Institute Chair of Crop Science, co-authored a paper on breeding drought-tolerant wheat that is among the top 10% most cited papers published in the PLOS ONE open access journal.

Co-authored with postdoctoral research fellow at UKZN Dr Learnmore Mwadzingeni, and the Agricultural Research Council’s Drs Jasper Rees and Toi Tsilo, the 2017 publication is titled: Genome-wide association analysis of agronomic traits in wheat under drought-stressed and non-stressed conditions.

Wheat breeder ‘motivated’ by prestigious award

Dr Batiseba Tembo, who graduated from the ACCI in 2016, won a 2021 Women in Triticum (WIT) award given by the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI).

The WIT awards recognize talent and dedication from both early career women scientists and those who have exceled at mentoring women working in triticum and its nearest cereal relatives.

Graduate’s Striga-resistant sorghum varieties released in Tanzania

Dr Emmanuel Mrema (pictured left) and his team recently released two new sorghum varieties with Striga resistance in Tanzania.

Striga is a parasitic weed that wreaks havoc on sorghum, maize, millet, rice and wheat, and is a huge problem in Tanzania, with two species affecting small-scale farms especially badly. Mrema successfully focused his PhD research on breeding new sorghum varieties for resistance to both of the Striga species, and for compatibility with FOS.

His PhD studies and research were funded by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Funding for his research was also provided by Technology and Innovation Agency (TIA), a unit of South Africa’s national Department of Science and Technology, working with the government of Tanzania.

On hearing the news, Dr Rufaro Madekadze, Senior Program Officer Extension and Capacity Building at AGRA, congratulated Mrema, saying “I saw them in development a few years ago and was convinced they will revolutionize agriculture in the dry parts of Tanzania. I am so excited they are finally released.”

Series:  ACCI food heroes

As a group, ACCI graduates and staff members have made a significant contribution to African agriculture. Apart from developing and releasing new, improved varieties of food-security crops, occupying key leadership positions in African agriculture and teaching and mentoring up-and-coming plant breeders, they also form a body of independent thinkers making a contribution to agricultural science on the continent.


The “Climate Crisis” – Adjusting to a New Future

Prof Mark Laing (director of the ACCI) is a Plant Pathologist, Plant Breeder and inventor. In this lecture on the Climate Crisis topic, he paints a picture of the new world that is most likely to develop in the next 30 to 120 years, and will have an impact on all of us, and future generations.

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