Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
25 June 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Prof Arno Hugo recently participated in a session on food with integrity during a webinar by the Integra Trust, where he presented a lecture focusing on the importance of food traceability and the information communicated to the consumer.

In the complete process between farm and fork, consumers are looking for someone to hold accountable if their animal welfare, product quality, and product safety expectations are not met.

On World Sustainable Gastronomy Day earlier this month (18 June 2020), Prof Arno Hugo from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology’s Food Science division at the University of the Free State (UFS) participated in a webinar by the Integra Trust, titled Heal the Land, Heal the People.

The Integra Trust was established to advance climate-smart sustainable and regenerative agriculture. It values the production, distribution, and utilisation of food with integrity in order to heal the land and the people.

Integra Trust strives to promote agriculture that has a limited footprint on the environment.

Prof Hugo’s lecture during the session on food with integrity, focused on the importance of the traceability of food and the information communicated to the consumer. 

Physical and emotional connectedness to farm and the producer
According to him, modern consumers want to know where their food comes from and want to be physically and emotionally connected to the farm and the producer. In the case of meat, for example, they want to know if the meat they buy is ethically produced and whether the animal was treated in a humane manner during the slaughter process. They also want a guarantee that the food they buy is free of harmful substances.

Prof Hugo states: “The consumer’s need for origin-based food is now playing out in a variety of ways, as food processors and retailers are labelling their products according to the origin of the product. One way of achieving this, is through a good traceability system.”

In his presentation, he focused on traceability from a meat industry perspective.

“Thus, in a good traceability system, a product on the store shelf can easily be traced back to the farmer and the farm where the food was originally produced. In modern traceability systems, it is even possible for the consumer to take the product in the store to a scanner that can read the ‘barcode’ and then showing a photo of the farmer and the name and location of the farm where it was produced,” explains Prof Hugo.

Food traceability important from food safety point of view
“Despite the consumer’s emotional need to connect with the farm and the producer, food traceability is also extremely important from a food security and food safety point of view,” he adds.

Although in its simplest form, it is a comprehensive process of keeping record of suppliers and customers in order to allow reconstruction of the product chain in case of need, it is doable. “In Europe, some 25 million cattle per year are now slaughtered with full traceability. The challenge of providing a secure form of identity through this process, is therefore a formidable one. This is achieved with the use of modern technologies such as Blockchain and DNA technology,” explains Prof Hugo. 

Joining him in the session on food with integrity were, among others, Errieda du Toit, chef, food writer, and culinary commentator (talking about perceptions in terms of difference between fast food and story food, asking if it is driven by social media) and Christiaan Campbell, chef and food consultant (talking about achieving synergy and communication between producer and consumer via the food value chain). Steven Barnard of Farmer Kidz presented a session focused on the younger generation, focusing on why it is important to connect children with food production.

News Archive

Multi-disciplinary research approach at UFS
2005-10-25

UFS follows multi-disciplinary research approach with opening of new centre 

“A new way of doing business in necessary in the research and teaching of agriculture and natural sciences in South Africa.  We must move away from  departmentalised research infrastructures and a multi-disciplinary approach to research involving several disciplines must be adapted,” said Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean:  Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS).   

Prof van Schalkwyk delivered the keynote address during the launch of the Centre for Plant Health Management (CePHMa) at the Main Campus in Bloemfontein today (21 October 2005).  CePHMa is an initiative of the UFS Department of Plant Sciences.

According to Prof van Schalkwyk a tertiary institution must practice multi-disciplinary research to be a world-class research institution.  “It is difficult for researchers to admit that they do not know a lot about each other’s area of speciality.  It is therefore necessary for researchers to make a paradigm shift and to focus on inter-disciplinary co-operation.  To do this, we must encourage them to work together and to find a common language to communicate ideas en establish symbiotic relationships,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

“We tend to think that research is better and faster if it is specialised.  This is not true.  The new generation of scientists are young and they are trained to form a concept of the total system and not to focus on a specific area of speciality.  At the UFS we encourage this approach to research.  This was one of the main reasons for the establishment of CePHMa,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.
CePHMa is the only centre of its kind in Africa and is established to extend the expertise in plant health management in South Africa and in Africa, to train experts in plant health and to conduct multi-disciplinary research about the health of agricultural crops.  

“CePHMa is a virtual centre comprising of ten disciplines applicable to crop production and crop protection,” said Prof Wijnand Swart, Chairperson of CePHMa during the opening ceremony.

“The UFS is the leading institution in Africa in terms of news crop development and manages three research programmes that concentrate on new crops, i.e. the New Crop Pathology Programme, the New Crop Development Programme and the Insects on New Crops Programme.  Other applied research programmes that are unique to the UFS are genetic resistance to rust diseases of small grain crops and sustainable integrated disease management of field crops,” said Prof Swart.

“Because the expected growth in population will be 80% in 2020 in sub-Saharan Africa, the future demands of food produce in Africa will be influenced.  Therefore research will in future be focused on ways to improve food security by employing  agricultural systems that are economically viable and environmentally sound,” said Prof Swart.

“Thorough knowledge of the concept of holistic plant health management is crucial to meet the challenge and it is therefore imperative that innovative crop protection and crop production strategies, with particular emphasis on plant health, be adopted.  This is why the Department of Plant Sciences initiated the establishment of CePHMA,” he said.

According to Prof Swart there is a shortage of expertise in plant health management.  “The UFS has shown the potential to address the demand of the sub-continent of Africa regarding expertise training and CePHMa is the leader in southern Africa to provide in this need,” he said.

The appropriateness and quality of training in plant health management is reflected in the fact that students from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, Cameroon, Angola, Mozambique and Lesotho have already been trained or are in the process of being trained in at the UFS.

Scientists from CePHMa have forged partnerships with numerous national and international institutions including the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), various community trusts, seed, pesticide and agricultural chemical companies, in addition to overseas universities. 

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:  (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
21 October 2005

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept