Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu Delivers Inaugural Lecture

Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu

Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS), and the incoming Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, has delivered his inaugural lecture on the topic “Entomophobia: Are Insects Dictating the Pace of World Food Insecurity? ”. The lecture, the last in the series of inaugural lectures scheduled for the 2015/16 academic year was chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey.

Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu shared important insights and lessons about the world of insects that humans can take advantage of to increase food production as well as ways in which humans could live peacefully with insects. He described insects as very tiny sub-bodied creatures having a head, a thorax and an abdomen, and guided mostly by antennae for navigation, while relying mostly on their mouth parts for feeding and defense against humans and other predators.

Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu brought to fore the growing feud between insects and humans in contemporary times, and mentioned in particular that humans have largely caused great discomfort to insects, by killing significant numbers of them with sophisticated tools and chemicals. He cautioned that the practice of using concentrated chemicals to wipe off these innocent and self-minding insects only brings hurt to ourselves as humans and greatly endangers the environment and food production.

Prof. Owusu emphasized that insects have rather a good tendency to shape and better human life. He made a Biblical allusion to Proverbs 6:6 which urges mankind to consider the ways of the ant, an insect, to become wise. He enumerated some key lessons to learn from insects, which include, investment ideology (insects after searching and finding food, save some for periods of scarcity), the importance of team work and division of labour (insects gather round a load of food and help drag it to their hide outs where necessary), discipline, selflessness, need for decent social order, respect for rule of law, and absolute respect for one another. He further mentioned some benefits gained from insects such as bees which produce honey, dry female cockroaches used as blood circulation promoters, and the silkworm which produces substances for clothing, painkillers and sedatives and as proposed food for astronauts on long-term missions.

He maintained however that, despite the usefulness of insects to human survival, there are equally highly destructive insect pests that attack over 70 host crops and have caused export bans in over 20 African countries. These insect pests which include fruit flies, brown capsid (Salhbergella singuaris), Cocoa mosquito (Helopeltis sp) and the millet stem borer have been described as “Devastating Quarantine pests” by the African Union (AU). These pests, he noted, have been quarantine pests of global concern, and are estimated to cause economic losses of more than USD 1 billion worldwide annually, per an FAO report in 2009.

Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu called for strong collaborations between academia, policy makers and industry to adopt best practices to manage insects and apply scientific knowledge to tackle threats to food security in the next 15 years and beyond.

Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, who chaired the Lecture placed emphasis on the unique role insects play in both plant and animal life. He shared perspectives on the activities of insects, citing their burrowing of the earth and pollinating ability as essential to enabling good aeration of the soil for plant growth and consequent food production. He maintained that although insects can be harmful, people must not live in fear of them to the extent of indiscriminately killing them. He advised that farmers and agriculture extension officers, especially, should rather treat these insects in acceptable and scientific ways, while been mindful that, the more effort people make to eliminate insects, the more people harm themselves. This he added is largely due to improper insecticide spraying of crops, threat to general food production and consequent plunge in economic growth of the country.

He acknowledge the works of Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu and noted that his research has greatly influenced policy and empowered agrarian communities. He entreated the general public to put into practice the lessons learnt from insects, as doing so brings improvement on both the personal level and national level.

Earlier in her welcome remarks, the Registrar of the University, Mrs. Mercy Haizel-Ashia emphasized that the University of Ghana attaches great importance to inaugural lectures and expects every academic who achieves the highest rank in his or her career in the University to deliver an inaugural lecture. She mentioned in particular the rationale behind organizing these lectures.

This she noted, helps to create a wider awareness of the latest developments in the academic disciplines of the University, offers the University an opportunity to recognize and showcase the academic achievements of its staff, as well as enable the Professor to celebrate an important personal milestone with family and friends, and share with colleagues within and outside the College about their research works.

A cross section of guests seated at the Great Hall

The Lecture was attended by Members of Convocation, Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Provosts, Deans, Directors, and members of the University community. Also present were the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, Hon. Julius Kofi Debrah, the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Mr. Kaoru Yoshimura, the Chief of Naval Staff, Real Admiral Peter Kofi Fiadoo, Chief Representative of JICA, Mr. Koji Makino, colleagues, students, family members and friends of Prof. Owusu, and the general public.

There were a number of presentations made to Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu to congratulate him.

Prof. Owusu being assisted to cut a tape to open the exhibition of his scholarly works

Prior to Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu’s inaugural lecture, a week-long exhibition of his scholarly works was held at the Balme Library. The exhibition centered his research on; Bioactivities of Cardanol against the Rust Red Flour beetle, Tribolium Castenum (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae); Bio-activities of powders of four plants against Prostephanus truncates Horn. (Coleoptera: Bostrichidae) and Tribolium casteneum Herbst (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae); Insecticide susceptibility of Bemisia tabaci to Karate and Cydim Super and its associated carboxylesterase activity; D-allethrin based mosquito coils for mosquito control: knockdown and mortality effects on the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae sensu lato; Varietal differences in fruitflies responses of some exportable fruits and vegetables in the southern horticultural zone of Ghana; and Population dynamics and within plant distribution of the invasive mealybug species, Paracoccus marginatus in the Eastern Region of Ghana; among several other publications.


Prof. Owusu conducting officials and invited guests around his exhibited works



Presentation from the College of Basic and Applied Sciences



Presentations from some constituent units of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences

Presentations from the International Association of Agricultural Students (Left) and the University of Ghana Business School (Right)


Presentations from Old Students of St. Peters Secondary School and Ghana Secondary Technical School (GSTS)

Prof. Owusu being congratulated by members of his family after making a presentation to him

Prof. Owusu in a pose with his wife and children