Professor Dr André Drenth, from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, University of Queensland, visited FABI from 19-26 February. Prof Drenth is one of the world’s leading plant pathologists who has worked with researchers linked to FABI since 1996 and has been involved with FABI from its inception. Today he serves as an international advisor on the FABI External Stakeholder Advisory Board.

His visit started with a special seminar during the Monday Morning Meeting with a talk titled “The epidemic of plant disease epidemics”. This traced his career as a plant pathologist and working on fungal and bacterial diseases of major tropical and subtropical crops such as Macadamia, citrus and bananas. He used these as examples of how plant pests and pathogens are moving globally faster and more frequently than ever before – despite stricter biosecurity measures. This is primarily due to the huge increase in international travel trade and connectivity. Prof. Drenth shared from his extensive experience in working closely with industries and governments to manage this threat.

The primary goal of Prof. Drenth’s visit was to engage with FABI research leaders and UP leadership on the future positioning and development of the institute. Prof Drenth is experienced in working with industry and with large scale international grants, and in the structures that facilitate these interactions at research intensive Universities. During his visit he led a series of workshops and interactions with individual researchers to evaluate the current position of FABI nationally and internationally, and to help define actions that could help sustain the institutes’ growth, and expand its impact in its core areas of strength. FABI clearly has much to offer with respect to agriculture, forestry and biodiversity research in Africa, and we look forward to build on our foundations to maximize our impact in these areas.