By Oludele Taiwo
A lecturer in the Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Federal University, Lokoja, (FUL), Kogi State, Prof. Mohammed Suleiman, has called for global intensive study in Mycology (Fungi) in all secondary schools, as part of measures to curb global food deprivation. He made the call in his inaugural lecture titled; ‘Pathogenic Fungi and Food Deprivation: The Challenges of Plants Pathologists’, at the university campus in Lokoja. He said fungi, until recently, are highly under-reported, marginalised and totally-ignored in secondary schools to the extent that only plants and animals are being studied, leaving a large number of students ignorant of the whole fungi kingdom.
“In fungal/pathology science, we see God’s touch, wisdom, wonders and grace, therefore, I am making a case for a global intensive study of mycology in all secondary schools because a secret of our living may be there. He stated further that there is no plant that is useless that, its usage can be for food, medicine or shelter, just as it is estimated that there are about 500,000 species of plants on Earth with about 10 per cent being used as food by man and animals. He noted that a major factor to food deprivation is disease inflicted on plants and its products by pathogenic Fungi in transit and in storage, which could lead to hunger, starvation, nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition with broad impacts on cognitive functioning. However, he condemned the effects of chemicals being applied by farmers to checkmate pests, insects and plant diseases. He said farmers have limited resources and lack the technical expertise required to handle imported fungicides and pesticides, which have the disadvantage of being denatured under high tropical temperature. He also lamented the destructive effects of fungi on the nation’s crops ranging from yams, potatoes, beans, maize, cocoa and groundnuts, among others.