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10.05.2008 Politics

Scientists Charged To Enter Politics

By Clement Atagra - newtimesonline.com

PROFESSOR Daniel Obeng-Ofori, a lecturer at the University of Ghana, has called on scientists and technologists to actively participate in the country’s political process to enable them to influence decisions in support of scientific and technological advancement.

Prof. Obeng-Ofori, who is at the Department of Crop Science, College of Agriculture and Consumer Science, noted that for a long time political destiny of the country has been left in the hands of persons who had not helped the country’s pursuit of scientific and technological advancement.

'It is time we, as scientists, also got involved,' he said.

Prof.Obeng-Ofori, who is also the president of the Entomological Society of Ghana and president of the African Association of Insect Scientists, was delivering his inaugural lecture on the theme, 'Insects in Agriculture and Human Development: paradigm shift in insect pest management in the 21st century', at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon, on Thursday.

Prof. Obeng-Ofori called for the establishment of an agricultural research fund to offer financial assistance for agricultural research.

He was particularly concerned that very little has been done to harness the enormous potential of the neem tree which is in abundance in the country.

He said in countries like Nigeria, China and India, neem products are processed both for local use and for export.

Prof. Obeng-Ofori stated that the neem tree has the potential to repel mosquitoes thereby reducing the importation of mosquito repellents.

He said the tree also has the potential to protect such important crops as cocoa and vegetables against pests that attack them.

Prof. Obeng-Ofori said the neem tree is an important and viable economic venture which needed to be supported.

He advocated the need to train a lot more insect scientists and he appealed to authorities of the University of Ghana to support post graduate studies in insect pest science.

'Nowhere is the need greater than in Africa which has too few insect scientists for the many complex pest problems that abound in the continent,' he emphasised.

He said the need for the promotion of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was vital given the fact that insects are the most dominant and successful group of organisms within the animal kingdom, accounting for over 80 per cent of all living animals.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, who chaired the programme, said vice chancellors of universities in Ghana were seriously advancing the point that serious attention must be paid to support science and technology.

Prof.Obeng-Ofori later announced an annual award of GH¢ 1,500 to be called the Rosaline and Daniel Obeng-Ofori award for the best graduating student in crop science.

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