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Celebrating 60 years – Matthews’s memoires 1 (1950’s-60’s)

| May 8, 2018
m.v. Ebani

My first overseas trip to West Africa was on an Elder Dempster cargo ship, the m.v. Ebani

The year before International Pest Control magazine was first published, I graduated from Imperial College in 1957.

On the day the results came out, I was on a one-man expedition travelling to West Africa on an Elder Dempster cargo ship, the m.v. Ebani. This was the idea of Geoffrey Brett, at the Ministry of Agriculture, who thought it would be a good idea to look at insects in cargoes shipped to the UK. After a brief stop at Dakar, Senegal, we continued to Takoradi, Ghana and then Lagos, where I was looked after by Mr Haywood of the West Africa Stored Products Research Unit (WASPRU). Established in 1948 during the colonial era the institute assessed the quality of exportable crops from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Gambia to United Kingdom. It became Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute after the independence in 1960.


Onboard the m.v. Ebani I measured the storage conditions and temperatures, throughout the voyage

In the warehouses in the Apapa dock area I witnessed large clouds of insects actively flying around the cargoes, notably at sunset. For my return trip to the UK on the m.v. Tarkwa, I was able to position thermocouples within the cargo as the ship was loaded and measure the temperatures throughout the voyage and publish the data.

I mention this introduction to Africa, as on my return, Dr Page at Imperial College, suggested I should go to Southern Rhodesia to join a cotton pest research team, as they had been unable to recruit a chemist. I had done a semester on chemistry during my entomology degree, so I was considered able to instruct farmers
on how to use DDT. During the required medical arranged by the Colonial Office, it was suggested that as I wore a hearing aid, it might not be a good idea for me to go to Africa.


John Tunstall (left) and myself with Dr Banda, President of Malawi when he opened Makoka Research Station (MARS). MARS was established in 1967 as the headquarters of the now defunct Agricultural Research Council of Malawi (ARCM). It was, and still remains, the main centre for cotton research.

However, I was able to explain that I had thrived in Lagos, and so in March 1958, I went by air to Salisbury (now Harare) Zimbabwe. Flying in those days, was from temporary buildings at Heathrow and involved landing for meals – dinner in Frankfurt, breakfast in a tent near Khartoum and lunch at Nairobi! I was met by John Tunstall and Derek Rose and began my studies on cotton insect control at Gatooma (now Kadoma) Research Station (founded 1925). Located in a fertile area and on the main road and railway between Harare (formerly Salisbury) and Bulawayo, the town is today a commercial centre for agricultural products (cattle, cotton, corn [maize], and tobacco) and manufactures cotton textiles. John and I were with the Nyasaland Government, when there was the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Derek Rose was employed by the Rhodesian government.

This is an extract of the full article published in International Pest Control – January/February 2018 issue.

Read full article online on page 14

Author: Graham Matthews

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Category: Agriculture

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