FABI celebrated the accomplishments of nine interns in the FABI Internship in Phytosanitation and Biosecurity on 9 December 2022. The interns for 2022 included Shonese Bloy, Siyabonga Magagula, Khukhwane Malatji, Kholosa Maqolo, Lawrence Mataha, Kholiwe Mbanyane, Sphumelele Mkhize, Sithabile Mtungwa, Makhosazana Ngema. They were the second 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). The program is 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 has been developed to equip talented graduates with a highly sought-after skillset in various aspects of phytosanitation and biosecurity. The ultimate goal is to empower interns with skills that will make them better prepared and more employable in the agricultural and forestry sectors. This in turn increases the human capacity to improve on South Africa’s response to pests and pathogens. 

Professor Martin Coetzee, who oversees the programme, 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 program praised all the interns for their hard work and accomplishments during the year. 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 research groups associated with FABI, while others are going to start their careers in industry. The CPHB wishes 2022 interns a successful future, they will be missed but as they were reminded, they will always be part of the FABI family.