A university Don, Prof. Okon Ansa has stressed the need for establishment of a plant disease diagnostic centre in the country to provide diagnosis problems and provide solutions based on scientific deductions.
Prof. Ansa made the submission last Thursday at the main campus of the University of Uyo while presenting the 55th inaugural lecture of the University. He noted that the University of Uyo in particular needs a Department of Plant Protection and Genetic Engineering with facilities to combat plant disease in order to increase productivity.
According to the Professor of Plant Pathology, “The University of Uyo is one of only few Universities without an academic Department setup to build capacity, to address protection of crops against pest and diseases. The concept of a department of crop science is outmoded and stifles the development of the disciplines concerned with the health of plants.
“We need to create a department of Plant Protection and Genetic Engineering and unbundle the knowledge base required to combat plant diseases and thus increase productivity. There is need for the establishment of a plant disease diagnostic centre to provide diagnosis of disease problems and provide solutions based on reasoned scientific deductions”.
The learned professor and former Commissioner for Agriculture in the State, pointed out that aside the rural-urban migration which has contributed significantly to the reduced number of farming hands in rural communities which has eventually lead to high cost of garri in the market, plant disease like cassava mosaic which affect cassava, if not checked could cause “starvation, social disaffection and social disorder”.
Speaking in his remarks shortly after the lecture, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof. Enefiok Essien commended the inaugural lecture for his wealth of knowledge in plant pathology and the presentation made.
Prof. Essien who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Godfrey Udo called on the people of the state to not only engage in the study of plant disease as according to him, disease that affect plants also affect humans, but everyone should engage in farming to ensure that there is food for the teeming populace.
Speaking with our reporter, a former governor of the State, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, called on the people no matter their profession, to embrace agriculture. He said that humans cannot survive without food, thus, the need to actively engage in agriculture “it is time for everyone to engage in agriculture. This is the only way that we can have food for survival”, he said.
On his part, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Charles Udo Inyang praised Prof. Ansa for a well articulated lecture. He also stressed the need for Akwa Ibom people to engage in farming, noting that the government has created an enabling environment for farmers in the State to produce food to feed the citizenry.
The Sensor reports that Prof. Okon Asuquo Ansa, an indigene of Oku Iboku in Itu local government area, attended King’s College, Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He holds a Ph.D in Plant Pathology from the University of Califonia, Davis, USA. Apart from serving as Commissioner for Agriculture during the administration of former governor Idongesit Nkanga, Prof. Ansa has served as Chairman, Board of Directors of many organizations.