FABI hosted the 52nd Congress of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathologists (SASSP) at the Future Africa campus from 1-3 August. The three-day event saw more than 250 delegates from across the globe present 80 talks and 111 posters on a wide range of plant health related topics. FABI had offered to host the conference in January 2021, envisioning that it would be an opportunity to reflect on the end of the UN International year of Plant Health (IYPH2020). But the COVID pandemic put paid to these plans and the symposium was instead hosted as an online event and the in-person event moved to August 2022. The Congress was planned by a team of FABIAns under the leadership of Prof. Noëlani van den Berg and Prof. Bernard Slippers who worked tirelessly to ensure no detail was overlooked to host a successful event.

Several international plant health experts attended the event including Prof. Sophien Kamoun who presented the JE Vanderplank Memorial Address “Reflections of a restless plant pathologist” and Professor Anne Pringle presented the Ethyl M. Doige Memorial Lecture: “Rethinking Baker’s articulation of an “ideal weed” with fungi: What is the “ideal invasive”?. Other invited keynote speakers included Prof. Paul Birch, Prof. Naresh Magan, Prof. Eva Stukenbrock and FABI’s Prof. Almuth Hammerbacher.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the association and a book documenting the history of the association and plant pathology research in the country was recently published by authors Prof. Teresa Coutinho and Prof. Mike Wingfield. A PDF file of this book is available for free download from the SASPP website or copies can be purchased from the Society.

Nature Africa, a recently launched online platform for communication about African Science, partnered with FABI to promote the importance of plant health research on the continent. The partnership involved a special collection of articles linked to plant health in Africa, as well as a published interview with Prof. Brenda Wingfield. Nature Africa and SASPP also hosted a breakfast panel discussion on the role of genomics in African bioeconomy development.

FABI would also like to acknowledge and thank the generous sponsorship by the following companies and organisations: University of Pretoria, Hans Merensky Chair in Avocado Research, Corteva Agriscience, Inqaba Biotec, Bayer, Labotec, Zeiss, Plant, Cell & Environment (PC&E), Separations, Agricultural Research Council, Starke Ayres and Nature Africa.