Participants of the UNIVEN/ICGEB Workshop

Weeds, including invasive alien plant species, remain a significant constraint to food production and a major threat to biodiversity in the country. Even though chemical pesticides (including herbicides) have played a significant role in pest control over the years, the misuse or overuse of these products may pose challenges. It is for this reason that the University of Venda’s Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture (FSEA) in collaboration with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) held a workshop on Biocontrol of pests, weeds, and invasive alien species in South Africa: Strategies, opportunities, and challenges. This workshop was held on 30 January – 01 February 2024 at the Agriculture’s New Hall. The FSEA Executive Dean, Prof Natasha Potgieter, is very proud of this initiative which falls within the UNIVEN Integrated Entrepreneurship Innovation and Biodiversity Plan (UIEIBP).Researchers from UNIVEN, together with the afore-mentioned stakeholders saw a need to reduce the over-reliance on chemical pesticides by developing and promoting complementary non-synthetic pest control methods. Research has shown that using biological control (biocontrol) agents remains the most sustainable way of controlling invasive alien species. This workshop has covered the developments over the years in the biological control of specific problematic weeds, focussing on the successes and challenges that could inform the development of more effective biological control strategies for other problematic pests, weeds, and invasive alien plant species, especially in South Africa. The constraints to the widespread use of biocontrol agents (and bioherbicides), and how these could be best addressed, were also discussed during the workshop.
Participants of this workshop were coming from the Department of Science and Innovation; International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology; Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization; Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, South African National Biodiversity Institute; National Biological
Control Release Application Review Committee; Modderfontein Laboratory Services and Rhodes University.

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 06 February 2024

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