A Ghanaian crop scientist based in South Africa, Professor Felix Dapare Dakora, has won the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award which was conferred on him by the AU at the opening session of its 28th Ordinary Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for his contribution to ensuring food security on the continent.
Prof. Dakora undertook a research on the development of enhanced soil bacteria which when implanted were able to convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonium or fertiliser that culminated in the production of legumes with high protein levels.
His research has led to addressing protein and calorie malnutrition among the rural poor on the continent.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Prof. Dakora said he was overwhelmed by the award.
“It is one of the greatest honours in life, it makes me proud, given the history of the awards that has been named after our first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
And for those of us working in the academia, I believe one day you would look forward to an acknowledgement by your peers and the society that the hard work in the laboratory is not useless or meaningless,” he said with glee.
Recounting his contributions to food security on the continent, he said he had trained about 47 masters and doctoral students from 14 African countries to build their capacities in crop science.
“I am a strong believer in requisite knowledge transfer, because many of us are ageing and would soon retire and so it is important that we have a crop of young scientists who can take over from us,” he stated.
Prof. Dakora’s motivation, he explained, was derived from the fact that on a continent where there were thousands of mainly poor rural dwellers suffering from malnutrition, there was the need to a provide solution to the challenge without them having to spend money.
“So essentially my work addressed food and nutrition security, protein and calorie malnutrition. It also traced element deficiency also called micro-nutrient deficiency that deals with the poor nature of soil in parts of the continent,” he said.
He said the award would spur him on to work harder to develop more technologies that would lead to sustainable development and the training of more young scientists.
“It is a vote of confidence in the work that I have been doing and I am proud of it,” he said.
Credit: Graphic Online