FABI recently hosted a visit by five representatives of the South African Kiwi Growers Association. The aim of this visit was to discuss a new and emerging disease of kiwi fruit caused by a species of Ceratocystis. It also sought to familiarise FABI researchers with the South African kiwi industry, to share recent FABI research regarding the Ceratocystis problem with the kiwi growers and to plan future collaborative research on the topic.  Against this background, the group discussed the fact that kiwi fruit have been grown in South Africa for over 40 years but a recent influx of new varieties has seen a tremendous growth in the number of growers in the country, and a steady increase in the establishment of new orchards. The South African Kiwi Growers Association was established in 2019 to support and grow the local kiwifruit industry, bringing together a diverse assemblage of growers and other stakeholders from all over South Africa.

The visit to FABI was arranged by Prof. Mike Wingfield, founder Director of the Institute, who has worked on Ceratocystis problems in many parts of the world during the course of the last 35 years. He was joined by Prof. Irene Barnes, and Prof. Brenda Wingfield, both also FABI team members internationally recognised for their research on Ceratocystis diseases. Professor Bernard Slippers, FABI Director attended and provided support for the meeting. The SA Kiwi Growers Association visit was led by Interim Director, Jonathan Trussler. The visit included extensive discussions regarding Ceratocystis diseases including the one affecting kiwi plants globally. After a visit to laboratory facilities focussed on inspecting the results of current research on the problem. The group concluded discussions with a clear view that, while important, this problem could be effectively managed via research capturing current experience at FABI.