ARC-PHP was established in 1962 with the amalgamation of the Divisions of Entomology and Plant Pathology of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. These Divisions had been in existence since Unification in 1910. In 1981 research on invasive weeds was formally added to the ARC-PHP and during 2000 the Agricultural Biodiversity Information Unit joined the Institute. This multidisciplinary Campus follows a holistic approach to the pest, disease and alien invasive plant problems, in line with the principles of integrated pest management as defined in Agenda 21 of the Rio Convention.

ARC-PHP is one of the Research Campuses of the ARC. The hub of the research activities is in Pretoria, with campuses at Roodeplaat. There are satellite units at Cedara, Uitenhage and Stellenbosch.

The ARC-PHP provides expertise to agricultural and environmental concerns through research aimed at the promotion of economic and environmentally-acceptable pest management strategies in support of sustainable land management in the sub-region and many other African countries. To this end ARC-PHP is a center of expertise on biosystematics, ecology and epidemiology of invertebrates, fungi, pathogenic and useful bacteria, viruses and the control of pests and invasive plants through optimisation of pesticidal and biological control strategies in integrated management programmes.

Core values

ARC-PHP is mandated to address plant protection issues that cut across commodities, affecting many crops and regions; thus the research impacts on all the provinces of South Africa and addresses the needs of many African countries. Research is directed at commercial, small-scale and resource poor farmers to address current and anticipated threats:

  • Biosystematic services are provided for the benefit of researchers, agricultural industries and to governments to carry out their statutory obligations. To this end the institute is the custodian of the National Collections of Insects, Arachnids, Nematodes and Fungi. Biosystematic capacity in the region is promoted through participation in African initiatives such as those on arachnids, pollinators, fruit flies and SAFRINET.

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of pests of crops, plantations and stored products is a central theme in much of the research of the institute and includes:

    • classical biological control programmes

    • quarantining of imported organisms on behalf of government and industry

    • cultural practices

    • pesticide application and residue analyses

    • monitoring of resistance to pesticides in pest populations

    • bioprospecting to develop viable alternative control methods

    • development of strategies to curb migrant pests in collaboration with neighbouring countries and international institutions such as DFID, NRIL and FAO

  • Plant pathology research and services focus on fungi, bacteria and plant viruses and includes:

    • studies of disease epidemiology

    • monitoring of disease resistance in plants in support of plant breeding programmes

    • development of diagnostic techniques

    • diagnostic services

    • indexing of virus diseases of banana and plantain on behalf of INIBAP

    • development disease-free seed schemes in collaboration with local industries and protocols of the International Seed Testing Association ISTA

    • specialisation in disease complexes such anthracnose and soil-borne diseases

  • Research on weeds is directed at the development of integrated control strategies against alien invaders of rangeland, plantations, rivers and dams, This is in keeping with the objectives of the Working-for-Water Programme of the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Water Research Commission, the Landcare initiatives of the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Many of the weeds occur in other parts of Africa and regional collaboration, such as for the proposed African Water Hyacinth Initiative, gives substance to the President’s "African Renaissance". Consultancies on weed management are provided to various African countries on behalf of CABI and FAO.

  • Expertise on beneficial organisms includes:

    • beekeeping for the benefit of commercial and resource-poor farmers for the production of honey and other bee products and the use of bees for pollination

    • nitrogen-fixing rhizobia as effective substitutes for nitrogenous fertilisers

    • mycorrhizal inoculants that promote nutrient uptake

    • natural enemies for the control of pests, diseases and weeds

  • Regional training courses for extensionists serving both the commercial and resource-poor sectors are undertaken independently and in collaboration with international partners.

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