"Training African Breeders on African Crops, in Africa"
Visit to India cements bond with ICRISAT
The African Centre for Crop Improvement has been strengthening ties with an important international partner. Read more...
PhD student Seltene Abady (left) and Professor Hussein Shimelis at ICRISAT in Hyderabad, India
Promising results in two-fisted approach to tackling Striga on maize
The ACCI’s pioneering efforts to combat Striga, with a two-pronged approach that combines breeding and biocontrol, have yielded more encouraging results. Read more...
Symbiotic fungus dramatically enhances drought tolerance in maize
Increasing the level of Trichoderma, a fungus that occurs naturally in soils around the world, makes some varieties of maize more drought tolerant, as well as boosting yield and general plant health.
Boosting drought tolerance in wheat by developing the root system
Going somewhat against the grain, ACCI student Isack Mathew has spent the last three years of his life focusing on how to develop a bigger root system in wheat.
ACCI sweet sorghum varieties poised to boost biofuel industry
A breakthrough by the African Centre for Crop Improvement in the breeding of sorghum could have far-reaching implications for the biofuel and bioplastic industries in South Africa.
For the last decade, ACCI director Professor Mark Laing has been working on developing sorghum and sugar beet varieties, as part of an integrated package to provide crop material (feedstock) for these two industries. His interest in the project started about 15 years ago when the price of oil rose to $150 a barrel.
“A large plastics company couldn’t get enough ethylene to make the quantities of polythene on order, so they wanted to start their own sugar-to-polythene plant and approached me about suitable sugar crops for the interior of South Africa,” he says.
With funding from Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), which is based in South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), Laing has been working on how to produce year-round feedstock on an industrial scale, by rotating sorghum and sugar beet. Read full article...
Stalwart retires after 15 years training plant breeders
Prof Rob Melis was in the first batch of staff recruited by Professor Mark Laing in 2003, a year after the centre opened its doors. Read more...
Prof Rob Melis (Left) with Prof Mark Laing
Prof Laing receives long-service award
Prof Laing recieved a long-service award from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, for his work and dedication to the university and students for the past 35 years. Read more...
Prof Mark Laing (left) with Prof Steve Worth
ACCI Launches New Book
“An amazing journey,” was how Dr Joe DeVries described the last 15 years of the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), when he spoke at the launch of the centre’s new book. Watch video
DeVries, who is vice president of programme development and innovation for Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), founded the ACCI in 2002 along with Professor Mark Laing, the centre’s current director. The ACCI has until now been funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and later AGRA.
The book, titled “The New Breed— Training the Next Generation of African Plant Breeders, in Africa,” tells the story of the ACCI’s trajectory from start-up hiccups in 2002 to prominance as a world-class training centre for African plant breeders. It describes how a new model for post-graduate education in the agricultural sciences was developed and how the centre’s Phd graduates—all 109 of them— have become sought after as scientists, leaders and innovative, independent thinkers.
Laing, ACCI graduate Dr Albert Changaya and Professor Kevin Kirkman, dean of research in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, also spoke at the launch. Kirkman said the ACCI has developed a successful model that the university would like to apply to other disciplines.
Click here to download a free digital version of “The New Breed”.
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