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General News
Insect scientists meet 10/2/2007
Accra, Oct 1, GNA - Professor Jerome Siau Djangma, Chairman of the West African Examinations Council, on Monday appealed to African scientists to vigorously market their achievements in order to attract funding for more research works.

He said the time had come for scientists to learn the act of lobbying governments so that they would attract all the needed support to move the African continent forward in this era of science and technology.

Addressing about 50 insect scientists at the opening of the 33rd Meeting of the African Regional Postgraduate Programme in Insect Science (ARPPIS) Academic Board, Prof. Djangma said most Ministries believed that Universities were making researches that were not relevant to the African situation, so releasing funds for them was often a problem. "We have to make sure that our generation plays a key role in sustaining science and technology in Africa," he said. The meeting would identify the opportunities and threats that the ARPPIS Network faces and develop strategic plans to address these challenges in terms of relevance, impact and sustainability. It is on the theme: "Strengthening Capacity Building in Insect Science in Africa."

Prof. Djangma, who is a scientist, asked the scientists if they were pleased with the way science and technology were administered at the governmental level.

"If you put people in places where they do not understand what your expectations are they can do very little to help," he said. The activities of ARPPIS members were very relevant to the Ministries of Food and Agriculture and Health, with other government agencies, so members needed to lobby such agencies so that they would release funds for the scientists to carry out research in the needed areas, he said.

"Let us see science as the real instrument for development and if this is done, then most programmes would no longer be lacking in resources as has been the situation in the past, "Prof Djangma said. Mr Abraham Dwuma Odoom, Deputy Minister of Health, said the welfare of human beings had been affected by insects and so their study had potential economic and social benefits to mankind. "No nation can afford to be complacent about the problems posed by insects and the role of insect scientists becomes extremely important since it is they who are expected to manipulate and control insects in the biological environment.

"Unfortunately, there are too few insect scientists in Africa to help find solutions to the many complex health problems." Mr Odoom said insects were man''s chief competitors on earth because they destroyed crops and animals and transmitted diseases to both human and livestock, citing mosquito-borne malaria as the world''s most devastating disease as the disease was still the biggest killer of mankind.

"An estimated 10 million square kilometres of the African continent is infested by tsetse flies which cause sleeping sickness. "Some 25-30 per cent of potential livestock production areas in Africa are not utilized because of livestock trypanosomiasis." Mr Odoom added that black flies caused hundreds of people in Nigeria, Ghana and other West African countries to go blind.

He said that professional training in science technology was key to the development and advancement of agriculture and human health. "Indeed, sustainable investment in scientific training and research is the only option that would enable us to develop appropriate technologies to solve our numerous challenges in agriculture, forestry and human health caused by insects and other arthropods," Mr Odoom said. He called on the insect scientists to formulate policies, which would enable humankind to co-exist with insects in order to enhance biodiversity and minimise environmental degradation. Mrs Angelina Baiden-Amissah, Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, said the question had been raised in recent times whether universities were meeting the challenges posed by globalisation and responding to the requisites of human resource that Africa needed to survive in these trying times.

"This is because it is not just enough to train personnel for the job market but to produce human capacities which promote the realization of the individual''s potential and the development of a balanced personality able to respond to the needs of community and still remain competitive within the global world of research and development." Prof. Clifford Nii Boye Tagoe, Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana and Chairman for the occasion, said insects were important to the African continent basically, because a large percentage of the population depended on agriculture as their source of livelihood. He said in spite of the positive aspects of some insects there were others that were destructive to crops, livestock and transmitted various kinds of diseases to man.

It is for these reasons that the strengthening of cooperation and collaboration between institutions of higher learning in Africa was a welcomed initiative, which needed to be embraced by all, Prof. Tagoe said.

Members of ARPPIS include Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi Mauritania and Namibia The rest are Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 1 Oct. 07Source:

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