UKZN Academic attends Tropical Agriculture Conference in Australia
SASRI Chair of Crop Science in UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Professor Hussein Shimelis, presented a paper on Striga grain under the theme of science-driven solutions at the TropAg 2015 Conference in Australia.
The bi-annual event was aimed at facilitating collaboration and networking between international scientists working in agriculture in tropical regions to increase project development and technology transfer between scientists.
The Conference featured eight exhibitors, with research papers presented on advances within the agriculture industries in the subtropics and tropics, from grain to horticultural crops to livestock. Oral and poster papers were presented covering a diverse range of aspects of tropical agriculture, specifically addressing innovative solutions to challenges faced in this arena.
Important topics covered included climate risks, crop productivity, health, plant diseases, nutrition security, consumer dynamics, breeding approaches, biofortification, and genomics for crop and livestock research.
Shimelis also attended a meeting on a demand-led plant variety design project in Africa held at the University of Queensland’s Saint Lucia campus. The project focuses on plant breeding education, implementation of breeding research, and cultivar development and adoption in Africa through international partnerships. The project aims to strengthen postgraduate education and professional development training for plant breeders on demand-led variety design, using best practices from public and private sectors in Africa and internationally.
Shimelis also visited the field trials of the Centre for Plant Sciences, an initiative of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI)/the University of Queensland situated at the Gatton Research Station.
‘This visit allowed me to share sorghum and maize research experiences of the Centre thanks to a field visit guided by senior researcher, Dr Daniel Rodriguez,’ said Shimelis.
Another visit was to the teaching and research facilities of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, which Shimelis described as extremely interesting, especially being able to see the world-class, fully-equipped 150-seater teaching laboratory (SuperLab) of the QUT.
‘Professor Sagadevan Mundree (an ex-UKZN staff member) of the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at QUT guided this visit and introduced the various research activities of the centre, covering complex biotechnology, breeding, micronutrient enhancement and disease resistance.
‘Overall, I gained substantial experience from the presentations, field and laboratory visits,’ said Shimelis. ‘I also established some contacts that will contribute to future teaching and research collaborations.’