FABI celebrated the graduation of nine interns in the FABI Internship in Phytosanitation and Biotechnology programme on 19 January. The interns, Amy CollopHarris Keetse, Jabulile Mahlangu, Thembeka Mkhize, Anza Muthabi, Kgetise Malele, Welapie Maluleke, Kekgotswe Nakana and Lungani Nkosi are the first group to graduate from FABI’s internship programme launched in 2021 under the auspices of the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Plant Health Biotechnology (CPHB) and co-funded by the South African Cultivar and Technology Agency (SACTA), South African National Seed Organization (SANSOR) and the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP).

This internship is designed to equip talented graduates with a highly sought-after skillset in disease management and be better prepared and more employable for the agricultural and forestry sector, bringing with them much needed capacity to improve South Africa’s response to pests and pathogens. 

Professor Martin Coetzee, who oversees the program, said this was a day of celebration and happiness for the graduating interns as well as everyone in FABI that was involved in the programme. Dr Katrin Fitza who manages the programmes praised all the interns and thanked them for doing an amazing job. FABI Director Prof. Bernard Slippers thanked them for “going on regardless of the challenges they faced completing their internship” and for their contribution to the Institute and for helping line managers in what was a most difficult year worldwide.

Some of the interns will continue with postgraduate studies in the research groups in FABI, while others are going to start their careers in industry. The CPHB wishes 2021 interns a successful future, they will be missed but as they were reminded, they will always be part of the FABI family.