The Genesis of MaRCCI

The Makerere Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) is a Centre of Excellence (CoE) under the World Bank (WB) ACE II Centers of Excellence in collaboration with the Inter University Council for East and Central Africa (IUCEA). The genesis of the Centre traces to the East Africa Regional Program for Plant Breeding and Seed Systems and Biotechnology started in 2008, by Makerere University through an initiative of the Regional Universities Forum for Agriculture (RUFORUM).

The degree programs supported for training are the M.Sc. in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems (PBSS) and the PhD in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology (PBB) both of which are under the Department of Agricultural Production. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) provided major support for the MSc program.  Development of the Regional Program resulted from the findings of broad consultations held in countries in east, central and southern Africa that showed:

i) A low output of trained cadres in plant breeding and seed systems in existing programs at Masters and PhD levels in various universities

ii) shortages of plant breeders and seed systems specialists to meet the market that was identified following extensive consultations with various stakeholders in east central and southern Africa,

ii) that investment in variety development and training of plant breeders was inadequate,

iv) plant breeding and seed systems training of many African students was conducted at institutions in countries outside Africa and many of the graduates did not return to serve in east central and southern Africa.

The primary focus of these programs is training of cadres who have the capacity to develop and execute a plant-breeding program and release improved varieties and training of seed science specialists. Graduates from the program provide human resources for plant breeding in National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs), regional plant breeding agencies, universities and seed systems regulatory agencies as well as private seed companies. The training program was strategically located at MUARIK (Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute at Kabanyolo), located very close to The National Crops Resources Research (NaCRRI) based at Namulonge which lies 7 km away from MUARIK. The close proximity to the research station provides synergies through provision of land for research trials, access to laboratory facilities, and interaction with the researchers at NaCRRI (National Crops Resources Research Institute, Uganda). The very close cooperation with the National Agricultural Research Institutions (NARIs) and other partners provides opportunities to reinforce the applied elements of the training. Training receives much support from a wide range of partners that include NARIs, local and international universities, CG centers and an array of development partners (Link )

The uniqueness of these programs lies in the targeting of students from the East, Central and Southern African regions and the focus on effective development of competencies for application in the field. Through this program, the University trained 135 graduate (PhD and MSc) students from more than 20 different countries in Africa (link). The breeders trained in this program have taken up positions that engage in plant breeding and seed systems programs in the region.