February 15, 2024

ARC Conference Spotlights South Africa’s Agricultural Research

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD) recently convened their inaugural joint conference at the ARC Roodeplaat campus. Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, underscored the event’s significance in celebrating and showcasing innovative agricultural research.

Under the theme “Science Transforming Food Systems for a Better Future,” Minister Didiza emphasized the pivotal role of science and research in enhancing food security, safety, nutrition, and production efficiency. Reflecting on global challenges such as climate change, conflicts, food waste, and emerging pests and diseases, Didiza stressed the imperative to revolutionize food systems worldwide towards sustainability and equity.

Acknowledging the current challenges faced by South African farmers, Minister Didiza highlighted recent outbreaks of animal diseases, including avian flu, which severely impacted the poultry industry. This led to increased prices for chicken and eggs due to low supply and high demand. Climate change, identified as a key factor contributing to the surge in animal diseases such as foot and mouth and avian flu, has added complexity to agricultural management.

Dipeneneng Serage, Chief Director of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, reassured attendees of the department’s proactive approach in addressing these challenges. Serage emphasized the department’s commitment to ensuring an adequate vaccine supply to combat potential future outbreaks. He revealed that the department had invested over R100 million in the current financial year at the Agriculture Research Centre (ARC) to strengthen its capacity to respond effectively to future outbreaks. This substantial investment reflects the government’s dedication to safeguarding the country’s agricultural sector and ensuring readiness for any unforeseen challenges.

Minister Didiza’s address she commended the ARC’s Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo Animal Improvement Scheme for empowering farmers to enhance their animals’ genetics, thereby improving resilience and sustainability in animal production systems.

As the agricultural sector confronts multifaceted challenges, such initiatives underscore the transformative potential of science in shaping a sustainable and equitable future for food systems globally.