Kwevitoukoui (Brad) Hounkpati is the first Borlaug LEAP Fellow from Togo. A Fulbright PhD Student in the University of Georgia Entomology Department, Hounkpati is currently conducting a systematic study of the West African Coccinellidae (WAC), or West African Ladybeetles. Numerous species of Coccinellidae are well known as biological control agents in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, little is known about the West African Coccinellidae and their potential for bio-control programs in Africa. Using predatory ladybeetles as pest control agents as well as the rearing of WAC could generate income, and contribute significantly to reinforce food security programs, to improve household livelihoods, and to reduce chemical inputs.
Hounkpati’s interest in insect taxonomy arose from his experiences as a farmer. Prior to entering university, Hounkpati earned his living as a farmer. His farm experienced first-hand insects’ infestation, and because there was no extension services to help, he watched powerlessly his crops being destroyed by unknown insect pests. This experience led him to pursue his education as an agronomist and developed his passion for insect taxonomy and insect pest management.
Hounkpati's Borlaug LEAP fellowship has allowed him to record more than 100 species of the West African Coccinellidae and meet with farmers, agricultural extension service officers as well as university and government officials. Hounkpati is using his fellowship to develop his skills in insect taxonomy, expertise that is currently lacking in West Africa.
Hounkpati is being mentored by Dr. Joseph McHugh at University of Georgia in US and Dr. Malick Niago Ba at International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Niger. His research will produce taxonomic tools including identification keys, field guides, and catalogues of WAC that can be used in bio-control programs. These tools are available for other regions but nothing comparable exists for Africa. The resources Hounkpati is developing will be the first of their kind and will serve as a foundation for other research on these important beetles in West Africa.
Hounkpati hopes that this work will contribute towards the reduction of inappropriate use of pesticides by smallholder farmers. He has a strong desire to improve not only the state of agriculture in West Africa but also to improve the lives of farmers.
In July 2013, in collaboration with other Togo Fulbright grantees, Hounkpati founded and launched Grain del Sel (GDS) Togo Inc., a nonprofit organization and scholarship program to support needy students in Togo. GDS Togo, Inc. is dedicated to helping ambitious and talented, yet underprivileged students, in public universities of Togo through scholarships and coaching.
Hounkpati believes a true leader leads by example and giving back to his community in Togo, either through his work with GDS Togo or his research, is part of his personal drive to improve the livelihoods of people in West Africa.
Visit GDS Togo Inc. for more information about the Scholarship by Scholars program.
En Français, Grain de Sel Togo Inc.