Ukulinga Howard Davis Memorial Symposium
The multi-level research and information-sharing Symposium highlighted agriculture for life and the future, exploring sustainability through research, agribusiness and community outreach.
The Symposium is an initiative of the Howard Davis Farm Trust and the UKZN Foundation to continue the relationship between the Trust in Jersey and UKZN. The Trust was founded by Durban-based British businessman TB Davis whose son Howard was killed in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 during World War 1.
Honouring the memory of Howard Davis, the Ukulinga Howard Davis Memorial Symposium links the Ukulinga Research Farm to the Howard Davis Farm in Jersey bought by TB Davis in 1927.
Mr Roderick Stevens of the Howard Davis Farm Trust said that then as now, agriculture was under stress. The Trust was created to benefit those who needed it most, and those who were the custodians of the world’s food security.
In his opening address, UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, said the symposium set out to explore the way science engaged with society.
‘There’s nothing better in science than someone discovering something astonishing, and I hope something astonishing will come of this event,’ said van Jaarsveld.
A major theme was that of climate and agriculture, with keynote speakers including eminent Hydrologist and Climate Expert, Professor Emeritus Roland Schulze of UKZN, and Professor Richard Eckard, Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre in Australia.
US Consul General Ms Frances Chisholm gave an optimistic keynote presentation focusing on the development of the relationship in agriculture between the United States and South Africa.
‘South Africa has a wonderful future, with considerable support from the US,’ said Chisholm.
Presentations ranged from perspectives on how to respond to climate change in the agricultural sector, to history about Ukulinga’s world-class research in various disciplines. Talks were also given on biofuel crops, maize breeding projects, sustainable agriculture, and catchment management.
Field demonstrations included UKZN’s Animal Science Steer Project, and a demonstration of a tiller from Stihl.
Participants were from various sectors. More than 90 small-scale farmers working with UKZN’s Farmer Support Group attended and engaged with academics, students and industry.
Postgraduate presenter Ms Nomali Ngobese said she felt honoured to be included in the Symposium and excited about scientific advances reaching those they were intended for.
In closing, Acting Vice-Chancellor of Research, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said for scientific research to advance, new knowledge needed to be generated in the kinds of forums the Symposium was offering.