International Society for Plant Pathology
TASK FORCE ON GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY
Challenge Project in South Africa
Changing Public Perceptions and Opinions on Global Food Security
South Africa plays a
leading economic role in Africa and has recently become more popular with
African students as an academic destination to do their postgraduate studies in
With rapidly changing sanitary and
phytosanitary (SPS) requirements and increased voluntary and regulatory
standards, developing countries find it more difficult to competitively trade
and effectively address food security challenges.
Most African countries, including South Africa,
lack adequate human capacity and expertise in critical areas such as SPS, pest
risk assessment, food safety and plant biosecurity.
Currently South Africa, as in the rest of
Africa, is not training an adequate number of plant pathologists to address
Furthermore, there is a general lack of public
awareness and basic knowledge regarding plant health and food security issues.
ISPP’s Task Force on Global Food Security invited proposals for 3-year projects
in its Challenge Programme aimed at “Changing Public Policy and Opinions on
Global Food Security”. The University of Pretoria’s proposal to: "Raise the
profile of plant disease, as a contribution to the challenge of global food
security" was selected from among 20 applicants. ISPP awarded $50,000 to this
project over 3 years. Its main object
was to establish plant health and food
security awareness among young people, through the use of marketing material
(flyers, booklets, brochures, banners and a TV series on food security), and a
mobile laboratory that could be used during school visits, particularly in rural
Africa. A trailer was adapted to house
bush lab equipment and camping gear.
Activities have included visits to rural
communities in the Northern Provinces of South Africa and Mozambique.
Linking this project with other similar programmes and establishing a
network and food security database, is a key part of the project.