Cape Coast — A Professor of Plant Virology and Dean of the School of Agriculture of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako, has called for measures to combat plant viruses due to their devastating effect on agricultural products and a threat to food security.
He explained that, the government's programme on Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) might suffer a setback, if adequate measures were not put in place to address viral plant diseases in crop production.
Prof. Asare-Bediako made the call at an inaugural lecture on the topic, " Plant viruses: fight the enemy and save lives", held at the campus of the university.
He alluded to the fact that, for the Planting for Food and Jobs programme to achieve its desired results, there must be a conscious policy to support research into plant diseases.
Additionally, he called for effective collaboration among scientists in order to come up with findings that would boost agricultural production in the country.
Prof. Asare-Bediako also called for the provision of modern laboratory and equipment for scientists to carry out effective research that would contribute in the transformation agenda of the nation.
He further underscored the need for the nation to ensure the provision of adequate skilled human resources that would chart a path in coming out with works that would help in the development of resistant and high yielding crops as well as solution to plant viruses.
Prof. Asare-Bediako explained that, plant viruses ranged from mild symptoms to catastrophes in which large areas planted with crops are destroyed, adding that catastrophic plant viruses worsen the current deficit of food supply in which several millions of people, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa were inadequately fed, leading to hunger and starvation.
He said plant virus diseases affect food security, a fundamental importance for human existence or livelihood, saying, "Plant viruses are enemy to human existence or livelihood".
The Professor said research had shown that cassava mosaic disease and rice yellow mottle virus disease were serious threat to food security and income in Ghana.
Prof. Asare-Bediako expressed worry about the misapplication of pesticides and other chemicals by farmers and said the practice was very dangerous for humanity.
He, therefore, urged the public not to hesitate in paying more to purchase vegetables grown from greenhouses due to its hygienic environment.