James A. Ogwang, PhD
We asked each of our scientists to give us their thoughts on their professions and what they think the future holds for humanity.
What would you recommend for students wanting to pursue a similar career?
Students who want to pursue a career in biological control of pests and weeds should ideally take courses linked to a Bachelor of Science degree and have a keen interest in crop protection (and specifically entomology). Within entomology, one must have interests in and appreciate the use of natural enemies to sort out pests and weed problems over the use of other control options like chemical pesticides.
What do you like best about your profession?
Being a Biocontrol Entomologist in a third-world country like Uganda gives me great pleasure and satisfaction because I have been able to solve some of the most crucial pest or weed problems using a relatively cheap and environmentally-friendly method. Moreover all pest or weed problems we have successfully tackled. Like the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), cassava mealy bug (Phenaccocus manihoti), citrus woolly white fly (Aleurothrixus floccosus) etc. have provided permanent remedies without our resource-poor farmers injecting a penny. Above all, I feel satisfied that by using biocontrol agents I have been able to restore biodiversity without polluting the environment.
What makes you most fearful for the future?
Anything that triggers war exposes mankind to hunger and misery and as man takes refuge in safer parts of the world during war, he in most cases catalyzes the spread of disease and pests. War therefore worries me. Additionally, I am concerned at the speed at which new technologies are being spun. Any technology developed especially linked to pest and weed control that may result in pollution of the atmosphere, agricultural land and waters is of great concern to me we need to strive hard to preserve a healthy environment for this and generations to come.
What makes you most hopeful for the future?
The future looks hopeful to me because as mentioned above, by integrating use of biocontrol agents in pest management, planet Earth will remain a healthier environment with a relatively intact biodiversity for generations present and future. On the other hand, indiscriminate use of pesticides will spell doom for the environment and biodiversity as happened when DDT was massively used for pest control during and after the Second World War.