By Walter Wilson Nana
Cameroonian-born Researcher and Varsity Don, Dr. Justin Nambangia Okolle is the winner of the 2012 TWAS Research Grants.
Executive Director of TWAS (the academy of sciences for the developing world), R. Murenzi made public the information recently. In a correspondence to Okolle, Murenzi wrote; “You are informed that your project has been selected by the Advisory Committee for the TWAS Research Grants Programme. The selection of TWAS Research Grants to individuals is highly competitive and has been made out of a very large number of applications and is based purely on scientific merit. Accept our heartfelt congratulations.”
Worth US$8,500, the TWAS grants are in support for Okolle’s project dubbed Dispersal mechanisms, population dynamics and natural enemies of mealy bugs on bananas in CDC plantations, Southwest Region, Cameroon. “We will be using the money made available to buy equipments earmarked for the project like microscopes, computers, internet kits, projectors, glass wears, window drapes, hydro-thermometers, books and more,” he said.
According to Okolle, the research is to study the biological and ecological aspects of mealy bugs infesting bananas. “These mealy bugs blacken banana fruits and so they cannot be exported. These are pests of aesthetic values. They affect the aesthetics of the banana and prevent them from being bought in the international market. This is a big loss for the plantations; about 30 percent of their banana harvest is lost. I will also take interest on the dispersal mechanisms, population dynamics, alternative hosts and natural enemies. I will be looking out for ways to curb the insects spread in the field and the reason(s) for the seasonal fluctuations of the population density,” he mentioned.
While the project is expected to generate vital information to formulate effective management, Okolle added that he will also identify the major weeds harbouring the insects.
The project, which is due for 18 months, is subject to special conditions specified in the Research Grant Agreement, RGA, signed by TWAS Executive Director, R. Murenzi, the Principal Investigator, Dr. Justin Okolle and the Head of the Administering Institute, Anne Sama Eyango, Southwest Regional Delegate of Scientific Research and Innovation.
TWAS – the academy of sciences for the developing world is lodged in the ICTP campus in Trieste, Italy. The administration and financial operation of TWAS is undertaken by UNESCO in accordance with an agreement signed by the two organisations.
The 2012 TWAS winner, Okolle, is a lecturer in the Department of Agronomy and Applied Molecular Sciences in the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, University of Buea, UB and a Researcher in the Laboratory of Entomology and Nematology, in the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development, IRAD, Ekona, Southwest Region, Cameroon.