Postharvest Technology
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SU’s Prof Opara to lead the world’s agricultural engineers’s Prof Opara to lead the world’s agricultural engineersEngela Duvenage<p><em>CIGR is umbrella body of the world's agricultural engineers</em></p><p>Stellenbosch University distinguished professor and research chair Prof Umezuruike Linus Opara has been elected as the incoming president of the International <a href="">Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering</a> (<em>Commission Internationale du Génie Rural</em> or CIGR). It is the worldwide umbrella agricultural engineering organisation, and consists of a network of regional and national <a href="">societies of agricultural engineering</a> as well as private and public companies and individuals globally. </p><p>Prof Opara was elected to the position during the recent <a href="">International Conference on Agricultural Engineering</a> held in Denmark and organised by the <a href="">European Society of Agricultural Engineers</a> under the auspices of the CIGR. </p><p>The election means that he will first serve on the Presidium of the CIGR for two years as incoming president, before taking up the position as president around 2019. He will then serve the CIGR for another two years as past president. Prof Opara is the first engineer from sub-Saharan Africa to be elected into this position and his term coincides with the 90<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the CIGR. </p><p>He will juggle his new responsibilities in tandem with those placed on him as holder of the DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology at Stellenbosch University and as distinguished professor in the Department of Horticultural Science. </p><p>Prof Opara, who has been a SU staff member since 2009, is a recipient of the 2016 <a href="">African Union Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Award</a> for senior researchers. He qualified as an agricultural engineer from universities in Nigeria and New Zealand, and serves on numerous international committees and editorial boards. He is a fellow of the South African Institution of Agricultural Engineers. Prof Opara is also the founding president of the<a href=""> Pan African Society for Agricultural Engineering</a> (AfroAgEng), which was established during a CIGR International Technical Symposium held at Stellenbosch University in 2012.</p><p>His multi-disciplinary research team is the leading group worldwide working on postharvest practices that improve the postharvest handling, packaging and marketing of pomegranate fruit. His research group also tests and develops packaging and quality control methods relevant to the handling and storage of fresh fruits and vegetables such as table grapes, citrus and apples. These efforts are focused on alleviating unnecessary food loss and waste, maintaining quality and adding value in the fruit and vegetable sector.</p><p>Although Stellenbosch University does not have a degree in agricultural engineering <em>per se</em>, Prof Opara says he is looking forward to using the new opportunity presented to him. He hopes it will help to deepen and strengthen the contributions of engineering and related programmes at SU in the agriculture, food and related sectors. </p><p>"The work of individual SU staff and postgraduate students in these areas are widely recognised by our peers, locally and internationally," he says. "Through collaboration and co-supervision we have several PhD and MEng students registered in the faculties of Engineering and AgriSciences working on different research topics in agricultural and biosystems engineering." </p><ul><li><a href=""><strong>Background information</strong></a> about Prof Linus Opara<br> <br></li><li><strong>Photo caption:</strong><br> Prof Linus Opara (left) of Stellenbosch University with the immediate CIGR past president, Prof Tadeusz Juliszewski of Poland. Photo: Supplied</li></ul><p></p>
SU postgraduate students and postdocs visit Parliament postgraduate students and postdocs visit ParliamentDivision for Resesarch Development (DRD) / Afdeling Navorsingsontwikkeling (ANO)<p><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">​​<span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">A group of SU postgraduate students and postdocs attended the budget speech vote of minister Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology. The visit was per invitation by Minister Pandor and facilitated by the Division for Research Development. According to Maryke Hunter-Hüsselmann, who accompanied the group, it was a first time in parliament for most, and therefore a very informative experience. The budget speech vote was preceded by an exhibition in the Iziko Museum and a lecture by Dr Marcus Cornaro, EU Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa. Find a summary of the budget speech vote below. </span></span></p><div><br class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"></div><div style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong>South Africa is not investing enough in science, technology and innovation – Minister Pandor</strong></span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"><br></span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">South Africa is not investing enough in science, technology and innovation. According to the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, if we do not change this trend, we will be overtaken by nations that have less capacity and knowledge resources than we have. Delivering her Budget Vote speech in Parliament this afternoon, the Minister said the failure to address the funding of this sector is causing the country to neglect several sectors that could offer South Africa talent, new products and real contributions to growth. Minister Pandor said that, despite this, the Department is making good progress in building a strong National System of Innovation. However, there are several areas of science in which we could do much more – such as creating new industries, new products and new services – but all these require additional financial resources.</span></div><div><br class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">The Minister said young people have been identified as those most in need of support through skills development and enterprise creation. "We intend to strengthen our efforts to reach the youth."</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"><br></span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">In this regard, the Department plans to host an inaugural Youth Assembly on the knowledge economy. The Assembly will provide a forum for young people to learn how to create businesses and social enterprises using advances in technology and knowledge. In 2015/16, the DST supported 1 276 youth through the Technology Innovation Agency. This includes support for 52 youth-owned SMEs, 951 youth-owned SMEs that receive support from the Technology Stations Programme, and 273 individuals trained through the Youth Skills Development Programme, with 85 of them receiving international training. The Minister also believes that innovation could play an important role in improving local service delivery and addressing the challenges facing local governments. "We will assist municipalities in creating innovation centres that will work with our agencies, local universities and the private sector. These partnerships will enable us to identify and tackle local and national problems. The Department continues to collaborate with district municipalities to build and strengthen science capacity to advance local economic development," she said.</span></div><div><br class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">Over the last year, the Department has formalised cooperation with the South African Local Government Association and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to tackle local challenges.</span></div><div><br class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">The DST will pilot a grassroots innovation initiative in 2016/17 with a R2 million investment that will focus on supporting innovators and technology entrepreneurs in the informal sector and in marginalised communities.</span></div><div><br class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">The DST's total budget for the 2016/17 financial year is R7,4 billion, of which R2,7 billion in Parliamentary Grants is transferred to the entities reporting to the Department, namely – </span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">•the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – R872 million;</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">•the National Research Foundation – R883 million;</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">•the Human Sciences Research Council – R290 million;</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">•the Technology Innovation Agency – R382 million;</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">•the South African National Space Agency – R125 million;</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">•the Academy of Science of South Africa – R23 million.</span></div><div><br class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"><em>Issued by the Department of Science and Technology</em></span></div><div><br class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2"></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">Enquiries:</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">Lunga Ngqengelele</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">Media Liaison Officer</span></div><div><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-2">082 566 0446</span></div><div><br class="ms-rteFontSize-2"></div>
Stellenbosch pomegranate researcher honoured with African Union Science Prize pomegranate researcher honoured with African Union Science PrizeEngela Duvenage<p>​​​​</p><p>The African Union (AU) has bestowed one of its highest scientific honours upon agricultural engineer and postharvest technology expert Prof Umezuruike Linus Opara of Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He received the AU Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Award for senior researchers at the annual African Union Summit in Ethiopia, which concluded last week. <a href="">Chemist Prof Nyokong Tebello of Rhodes University</a> in South Africa was honoured in the category for women in science.</p><p>Prof Opara, who hails from Nigeria, is holder of the DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology, and distinguished professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at Stellenbosch University. He has been a SU staff member since 2009 and is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).</p><p>His multi-disciplinary research team is the leading group worldwide working on postharvest practices that improve the postharvest handling, packaging and marketing of pomegranate fruit. Prof Opara is recognised globally as the leading individual researcher on postharvest technology of pomegranates.</p><p>His research group also tests and develops packaging and quality control methods relevant to the handling and storage of fruits and vegetables such as table grapes, citrus and apples. These efforts are focused on alleviating unnecessary food loss and waste in the fruit and vegetable sector. His team also recently investigated the preservation and quality of fish, and the use of cassava flour to make bread with. </p><p>"It is an honour to have one's work recognised on such a continent-wide scale, but credit should also go to my research team and industry for supporting my ideas and research interests," says Prof Opara, who graduated in agricultural engineering from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He holds a PhD from Massey University in New Zealand. </p><p>"Scientific research can play a crucial role in enhancing the profitability and sustainability of agribusiness," notes Prof Opara. "This award is particularly special because it also recognises the impact of our research on building human capacity in South Africa and Africa as a whole."</p><p>Since joining Stellenbosch University in 2009, Prof Opara has mentored the studies of 18 PhD and 21 MSc students from 15 African countries. In 2015 he also received an <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=2876">IMPRESSA award</a>.</p><p>He is the honorary vice president of the International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (CIGR) and honorary chair of the CIGR Section VI: Postharvest Technology and Agro-Processing. He also chairs the International Society for Horticultural Science's Vegetables Section (Roots, Tuber, Edible Bulbs, Brassica & Asparagus) and previously served on the advisory board of international organisations such as the Horticulture Innovation Lab of the Feed the Future Programme in the USA.</p><p>Prof Opara is the founding editor-in-chief of the <em>International Journal of Postharvest Technology, </em>and has published over 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and industry journals. He has given over 150 oral presentations at international conferences, including several invited keynotes addresses and served in expert panels related to food security, value addition and agricultural transformation.</p><p> </p><p><strong>More about the African Union </strong><strong>Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards</strong></p><p>The AU awards programme has since 2008 honoured the scientific achievements, valuable discoveries and findings of top African scientists. Previous South African winners include HIV researcher Prof Abdool Karim of the University of KwaZulu-Nata   and Prof Mike Wingfield of the University of Pretoria.</p><p>For more information, see <a href=""></a></p><p><strong><br>Photograph caption</strong></p><p>Prof Linus Opara (middle) of Stellenbosch University received the African Union (AU) Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Award at the AU Summit in Ethiopia. With him are the newly elected AU Chairperson, Mr Idriss Deby Itno of the Republic of Chad, and Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, Chair of the AU Commission. Photo: Supplied</p><p> </p><p>​</p>