The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Sunyani, Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako has called for the need to increase agricultural production to meet the rising population demand for food. He said, Africa’s population was projected to grow from 1 billion in 2010 to 2.1 billion by 2050, therefore, this measure would ensure food security in the African continent, especially in Ghana.
He made this call during a maiden Public Lecture, which was held as part of activities lined up for the 6th Congregation of the University. The Lecture, delivered by the Vice-Chancellor at the University Auditorium on December 17, 2021, was on the topic: ‘Plant Viruses: A Threat to National Food Security.
Prof. Asare-Bediako further indicated that achieving food security in sub-Saharan Africa remains a major challenge; and plant viruses are a key contributing factor. He mentioned that Cassava Brown Streak disease, Yam mosaic virus (YMV), Mealybug wilt of pineapple (MWP) and Cowpea viral diseases are among the numerous viruses affecting crops in Ghana. Prof. Asare-Bediako expressed worry that the sustainability of the government’s flagship programmes “Planting for Food and Jobs”, ”Planting for Export” and “Ghana Beyond Aid” could be affected. He further indicated that these viruses are a threat to food production and quality in the country as well as food security and government policies hence, making it difficult to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1; No Poverty and two, Zero Hunger.
The Vice-Chancellor hinted that a vast number of plant pathogens from viroids of a few hundred nucleotides to higher plants cause diseases in crops. He was therefore of the view that Plant virologists have a palpable role to play in managing plant viruses to meet the ever-growing demand for food quality and quantity.
He recommended that strategies for managing plant Virus Diseases include eradicating the source of infection to prevent the virus from reaching the crop, minimizing the spread of the disease by controlling its vector, and utilizing virus-free planting material. Prof. Asare-Bediako further called for effective collaboration among virologists at the institutional levels, industry and government for easy implementation of plant virus diseases control policies in Ghana.
The University Council Chairman, Prof. Nsiah Gyabaah, graced the event and it was well attended by the University community.