The National Grain Research Programme (NGRP) has the vision to 1) increase collaboration between government, industry and local universities; 2) increase engagements between grain and oilseed stakeholders and, 3) to promote industry-relevant, outcomes-based research. In support of this, the 2nd Annual Research Day was held in Stellenbosch on 3-4 April. The meeting provided an opportunity to showcase grain research produced across partnering research institutes (currently including Stellenbosch University (SU), University of the Free-State (UFS), and FABI at the University of Pretoria (UP)) and have open discussions with industry and government about research directions and priorities needed to help solve grand challenges related to grains in the country. A large team represented FABI-UP both in-person and virtually.

Dr Maneshree Jugmohan-Naidu (Department of Science and Innovation) started proceedings and discussed the Science, Technology and Innovation road map for agriculture. This was followed by presentations from Dr Adré Minnaar-Ontong (UFS), Prof. Cobus Visagie (NGRP co-director; FABI-UP) and Dr Marike Visser (SU) who provided overviews of the program and its developments at each University. FABIans who presented included Prof. Bernard Slippers (Genetic tools to support pest management, with specific reference to Lepidoptera on maize), Dr Nicky Creux (Crop plant development and environmental change) and Dr Robert Mangani (Evaluating late planting dates and cultivar choice of maize under dryland production in South Africa). Other FABIans joining the discussion in person included Drs David Nsibo, Gudrun Dittrich-Schröder, David Read and Neriman Yilmaz. Keynote speakers for the event included prominent climate scientist, Prof. Stephanie Midgley, speaking on our current understanding of climate change and its impact on South African agriculture, and Prof. Andre Jooste (SU) spoke about agricultural policy that influences the future of agricultural research in South Africa. There were two lively panel discussions on climate change and agricultural policy, that was facilitated by Prof. Pieter Swanepoel (SU) and Mr Jannie de Villiers (NGRP chairperson). The symposium was an excellent opportunity for participants to network, grow collaborations and engage with members across the agricultural sector including researchers, industry members and policy makers. We are grateful to Mr Willem Botes, Dr Marike Visser, Prof. Danie Brink and others from SU who hosted us in Stellenbosch and look forward to UFS who will host the research day in 2024.