PROFESSOR of Mycology, Lagos State University, (LASU) Oyedamola Oke has emphasized the need to initiate man power training programmes at both state and federal levels especially for academics.
Oke made this call during the inaugural lecture tagged "fungi: angels and demons dwelling with man" held at LASU, Ojo campus recently.
He explained that about ten years ago when there was proliferation of universities in Nigeria, this in itself is a very good idea, but the bad aspect was that there was no plan, to progressively build human capital that is essential for the survival of the university system.
Apart from investing in human capital, he said all efforts at funding research by federal and state government should be taken seriously, as attempt to source for fund internationally is increasingly becoming difficult.
He however recognized the effort of the institution saying "I am aware of the efforts of the university in my faculty; however, I think we could improve on this effort, especially in respect of equipping our central research laboratory".
He said there was need to encourage researchers through financial reward "I wish to call the attention of this audience to the South African model whereby a published paper in some specified journals is rewarded with about R 102,000 (N200,000) to the authors and about R102,000 (N2,040,000) to the university. The fund is paid by the department of education."
"This has enhanced research in South Africa. The inaugural lecture of today has benefited from that model. I am strongly persuaded that it is possible in Nigeria, even if not N200, 000 but something tangible.
In the course of his research, he said, he identified the need to establish a culture collection centre. The necessity for this has to do with the fact that ordinary confirmation of identification which is absolutely essential in the study of fungi cannot be done here. Cultures, he said are usually sent to America or Britain. The only recognized fungi collection centre in Africa is in South Africa. He added that the usefulness of a culture collection centre cannot be overemphasized in the study of fungi.
Talking about the benefit of fungi he said they are used in baking of bread, production of alcoholic drinks through process of fermentation, and also several medicines are obtained from fungi. They include penicillin, Cyclosporine A, and also useful in the production of several industrial chemicals such as lactic acids, ethanol, methanol and such solvents he said are extremely important for efficient functioning of some industries.
As much as it has it benefits, it also causes harm to both plant and animal as 70 percent diseases suffered by plants and animals are caused by fungi.
The professor opined that "hence, for as long as human existence continues, these â€˜demonsâ€™ and â€˜angelsâ€™ will continue to dwell with man. Therefore, there must be an urgent and coordinated action plan to enhance the study of mycology, in order to be ahead of these necessary evils called fungi".
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