Fungi embody economic recovery potentials, Mycologists discover

By Joy Akiga
Mycology conference at Dutse Alhaji centre

The President of the Mycological Society of Nigeria (MYCOSON), Prof. Hadi Ahmed Suberu, has disclosed that fungi organisms possess incredible properties that can be harnessed to bolster economic revival, especially in the present post-Covid-19 recoveries.  

He stated this as the society converged on the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Abuja Model Study Centre, for their 13th Annual Conference, titled: Roles of Mycology in post-Covid Economic Recovery, Food Security, Environment and Health,” held on Monday, October 9, 2023.

It is an annual conference, where the mycologists in Nigeria and beyond gather to listen and criticize reports of innovative research before publications.

The president, while welcoming delegates to the conference, said membership of the society has grown to over 200 due to the efforts of educating younger graduates and the inherent attraction because of the importance of mycology.

He said despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the ASUU strike, mycologists had kept faith with research, especially as it concerns current realities of the world, even in choosing the theme for the conference this year.

Suberu added that it is important for members to explore innovative solutions that can contribute to the recovery, resilience, and sustainable development in the postCovid-19 times, stating that fungi can be utilised in the production of biofuels, bioplastics, and sustainable materials, offering environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternatives to traditional industries.

On his part, the host and NOUN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olufemi Peters, while declaring the conference open, thanked the MYCOSON for coming to the university, describing it as an honour to host the conference at NOUN.

Represented by the Dean, Faculty of Sciences, Prof. Kolawale Lawal, Peters acknowledged the importance of the society and informed them of the presence of NOUN centre in every state of the federation as he wished them a fruitful conference.

The Chairman, Local Organizing Committee, Prof. Sami M. Ayodele, in his opening remarks, said in the past conferences, the society attracted participants from different disciplines in academics, saying that “this year’s conference is not left out as there are participants/delegates from different research backgrounds and walk of lives.”

He urged the delegates to open their intellectual minds for questions, debates, and highly interactive discussions about the unique group of organisms called fungi, adding that he did not doubt in his mind that after the conference many who are not members would quickly register to become members of the noble scientific society whose memberships cut across many disciplines in science.

A keynote address was delivered by E.O. Akpaja from the African Centre for Mushroom Research and Technology Innovations, University of Benin, Benin City, who said generally, the Covid-19 pandemic negatively impacted the human rights and the rule of law, as some of the restrictions impacted negatively on the freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, and media freedom.

He said the pandemic had exposed the fragile health system which raised a lot of concerns as the provision of quarantine facilities and availability of rapid diagnostic kits for fast and reliable testing was a challenge,

Akpaja suggested that to survive we must have proactive healthy immune strategies as fungi can cope and overcome many challenges in the environments.

The society also launched its two editions of Mycological Journal vol.14, 2022, and vol. 15, 2023 by Prof. D.B. Olufolaji.