The purpose of the Center is to provide support in the delivery of high-quality training in plant breeding, seed systems, and biotechnology through the Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology (PBB) and the MSc in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems (PBSS). Both programs are in the Department of Agricultural Production of CAES. The core of the plant breeding training is anchored by progressive variety development programs in cowpea and sorghum, both drought-tolerant, climate-resilient crops. MaRCCI also has a seed systems program and provides short-course training in data analysis, seed systems, proposal writing, scientific communication, and a range of other relevant subjects.

127 master’s level and 57 doctoral level students from 20 African countries have passed through this program. Except for those who are upgrading to Ph.D. level, almost all students from this program have returned to their home area in Africa. Many have been put into positions of research leadership for improving food crops in their own country, for example in Rwanda and South Sudan.

To the historical and continuing emphasis on graduate-level training of plant breeders, MaRCCI is adding three on-site research programs at Kabanyolo in cowpea, sorghum, and seed systems. These are for both student instruction and demonstration of best-practice inbreeding, and seed systems in cooperation with NARO’s research programs.

Service and outreach to the scientific and farming communities of Uganda and the region is another focus of MaRCCI’s present efforts. These include testing seeds for quality and purity, diagnosing plant diseases, providing access to the biotechnology lab and bio-informatic services, and organizing short courses for scientists, technicians, and extension personnel.