International Society for Plant Pathology
Promoting World-Wide Plant Health and Food Security
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International Society for Plant Pathology


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 agriculture.  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 these challenges.  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.