FABI is a postgraduate research institute where research and education is focussed broadly on the improvement of crops related to forestry and agriculture. The Institute resides within the UP structures of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and links departments such as Genetics, Biochemistry, Plant Science, Plant Production, Microbiology and Plant Pathology, as well as Zoology and Entomology.
“This is a year where we not only celebrate the tenth anniversary of FABI but the hundredth anniversary of the University of Pretoria. The establishment of FABI can only be described as a resounding success,” said Prof Mike Wingfield, Mondi Professor of Forest Protection and Director of FABI. He continued to describe the exceptional progress that FABI has made since its official inception in 1998: “It has grown and excelled far beyond the expectations of its stakeholders, the University of Pretoria and the many funding agencies, government, state and private companies that support its research.
"Individual FABIans have won countless awards for research excellence and the Institute as a whole has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. All of these accomplishments have come to us in only ten years. One can only wonder what the next ten years will bring.” Prof Wingfield recently made national headlines for having being elected a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). FABI was "born" in 1998. It rose from modest beginnings with a group of core academics, technical staff and postgraduate students numbering about 50. The group has grown to about 180 within the decade. This multinational group is so diverse in its composition – Prof Wingfield argues that at least 30 different languages are spoken at any one time.
Speaking at the celebrations, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Robin Crewe, applauded the work that FABI has done over the past ten years and stressed how important research into plant, soil and water sciences has become for the country, the continent and indeed internationally.
FABI’s celebrations included the colloquium (seminar) to celebrate ten years of FABI and to showcase the activities of the DST/ NRF Centres of Excellence (CoE). This is particularly justified by the fact that FABI houses the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB), which was one of the first six Centres of Excellence to be recognised by the DST and NRF. The CoEs are physical or virtual centres of research which channel current capacity and resources to enable researchers to join forces across disciplines and institutions, on long-term projects that are locally relevant and globally competitive in order to improve the quest for research excellence and capacity development.
Prof Anton Ströh, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Agriculture ,Prof Mike Wingfield, Director of FABI and of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB); Mr Mike Edwards, CEO of Forestry South Africa (FSA); Mr Rodney Hearne, DANROC (Pty) Ltd, Sub-Tropical Fruit and Nuts and Banana Growers Association of South Africa (BGASA) and Prof Robin Crewe, UP Vice-Principal