Researchers from the Ethiopian Environment and Forestry Research Institute (EEFRI), Dr Agena Tanga, Kumela Regasa and Weldesenbet Beze, visited FABI, the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) and different nursery, plantation and processing sites in South Africa over a two-week period. This is part of the collaborative research project between these institutes as well as Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast, to investigate the emerging pest and disease problems in wattle plantations in Awi Zone, Ethiopia.

The visitors attended the recent annual meetings of the Tree Protection Co-operative Program (TPCP) and the National Grain Research Program (NGRP) at the University of Pretoria’s Innovation Africa @UP campus where they were exposed to a broad range of research on plant protection. They also visited the FABI research, diagnostic clinic, biocontrol and insect rearing facilities. The visitors then moved to KwaZulu-Natal, where they visited the ICFR, including the seed production, analytical laboratory, nursery and library facilities, as well as the wattle progeny, clonal and hybrid trials in the field. The visit also included breeding trials, nursery production and community forestry.

We would like to thank NCT, Mondi, UCL and NTE for kindly hosting the EEFRI researchers during their visit. The knowledge and experience gained during the visit is valuable to improve research and plantation forestry practices in Ethiopia, and also strengthens the international network of tree health in South Africa. The project involves Drs Ilaria Germishuizen and Julian Chan from the ICFR, Dr Mesfin Gossa and Proff Brett Hurley and Bernard Slippers from FABI, and is coordinated by Prof. Simon Lawson and Dr Madeline Healey (University of Sunshine Coast) and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).