University of Limpopo launches institute to address food security

French ambassdor to South Africa, His Excellency Aurelien Lechevallier heaped praises to the University of Limpopo for its substantial contribution to addressing food security in the face of severe drought and climate change

Lechevallier was speaking during the second phase launch of the R5.5 million FrenchSouth African Agriculture Institute (F'SAGRI) programme at the university. The first threeyear phase was launched at the University of Fort Hare in 2015. It aims to increase the number of South Africans with highlevel skills in agriculture, especially the field of food science and technology.

Since its inception, the programme at UL has enrolled two fulltime Master's students in Agrofood Chain to study in France for two years. In addition, a stateoftheart equipment called Rheometer worth R700 000 was donated to UL's Limpopo Agrofood Technology Station (LATS). LATS is a centre of excellence at the university that facilitates the development and improvement of agroprocessing, technology innovation and commercialisation of agroproducts by startups and existing Small Mediumsized Enterprises (SMEs) in Limpopo Province.

The F'SAGRI programme strives to produce curricula in food science to increase the volume of exchange of students and professors between France and South Africa in agricultural food sciences, and to encourage knowledge transfer in agricultural food science in local communities.

Lechevallier says over the next three years, the initiative at UL would train professors and teachers on capacity building in African universities and institutes. This is to ensure a sustainable future in terms of food supply and rural development through the use of high level skills in agriculture and the conversion of knowledge into new agribusiness, he says.

According to Prof Jesika Singh, Deputy ViceChancellor Research, Innovation and Partnerships at UL, the cooperation's student mobility programme helps close the food science gap in South Africa. Our students who are undergoing postgraduate studies in France will be able to help the country with new skills to ensure food security. We have many indigenous foods in Limpopo Province and are critical to food security in our communities. We intend to develop in this area of indegenous food, and the introduction of a food science curriculum will help in this regard.

Source: University of Limpopo