Structure and Funding
Desirable Characteristics of ACCI graduates
ACCI graduates should have:
  • Creative leadership abilities and focused on impact
  • Determination to succeed
  • Problem-solving ability and dynamism
  • The desire and capacity to "make a difference"
  • A broad knowledge and understanding of African contextual issues
  • The capacity to be role models and good public speakers
  • Excellence in scientific English, both in writing and editing


Description of studies

1st Year of Study, Foundation Year:

Students will take a series of selected undergraduate and postgraduate courses in their first year of study. They will take sufficient modules to obtain 64 credits in the first semester and 64 credits in the second semester, usually 4 x 16 credit modules per semester. As part of the standard requirements of these modules, all students will write examinations at the end of the first and second semesters (in June and November). Students will need to pass all courses, and to achieve an overall mark of at least 60% in order to continue with their studies. Students who do not achieve this standard will not return for Year Two, but will be given a Certificate of Performance.

Students will also take other courses, such as one on Grantsmanship (i.e., how to write funding proposals and to manage donor funds) during the July vacation, as well as various computer literacy courses (e.g. PowerPoint)

During their first year, all students will write a detailed literature review on their chosen crop.

Students will all return home for the Christmas vacation period at the end of the first year.

2nd Year of Study, Project and PhD Studies

The second year has two main components:

1.Advanced Studies:

During this year the students will also take various advanced PhD studies to support their research and future careers with a range of both local and international lecturers. These will be given on a block basis, in a workshop format.

2. Development of Project Proposal:

Students will develop a detailed project proposal for their Ph.D. research, and a research budget (for funding the research at their home research station). These will be assiciated with a mini-project to ensure that all the proposed techniques are feasible and familiar to the students.

Students who do not achieve a satisfactory standard during Year Two will return home and will be deregistered for the PhD degree. However, they will be given a Certificate of Performance for their achievements in Years One and Two.

3rd, 4th and 5th Year of Study, Field Studies

In the third, fourth and fifth year of studies, the students will undertake field research in plant breeding in their home countries, in their previous jobs. They will therefore need to ensure that they are able to return to the field station to undertake the research that will be needed to complete their PhD. There will be limited funding of the operational research requirements when they return home, supported by the donor agency. Supervision will be provided at a distance and by visits from supervisors.

5th Year of Study, Completion of Write Up

At the end of the 5th year, students will return to the University of KwaZulu-Natal for a maximum of three months to complete their thesis write up. Note that students will need to have completed the bulk of their thesis writing before they return to the University of KwaZulu-Natal.



The ACCI is currently funded by a grant from AGRA, a joint venture of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who administer the funds. Initially in Phase I, some forty students, arrived in cohorts of eight per annum, received support from the Rockefeller Foundation for their studies. Further funding is being sought from other funding agencies for expansion and long-term sustainability.


Strategic links
Rockefeller Foundation for initial fund and project support in-country.

Cornell University for internet-based, live lectures and collaboration, distance library support and project designs.

CGIAR organisations, such as ICRISAT, CIMMYT, IITA, IRRI, WARDA, CIAT, CIP, ICARDA for genetic resources and provision of international lecturers and co-supervisors.

National agricultural research institutions in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso.

UOFS, UCT, University of Pretoria, Dept. Science and Technology, EcoBio, PlantBio and BioAfrica.

UN FAO, IPR-Netherlands, Weizmann Institute for international lecturers.

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