The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza;

The Director-General of Department Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development, Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi;

DSI Acting Deputy Director-General, Technology Innovation, Dr Rebecca Maserumule;

Acting DDG Agric Production, Biosecurity and Natural Resources Management, Mr Dipepeneng Serage;

The University of Pretoria Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Built, Environment and IT, Prof Sunil Maharaj;


Distinguished guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:


I am pleased to be joining you my colleague, Minister Thoko Didiza and all of you distinguished guests as we co- launch the National Biosecurity Hub.


Perhaps, some might ask the fundamental question as to what brings our two Departments together in the implementation of this project. On my part, in the 2019/20 financial year, Cabinet approved our new White Paper on Science Technology and Innovation (STI).


This White Paper is now our principal policy guiding the national system of innovation (NSI) and commits South Africa to furthering the role of STI in economic and social development, emphasising the core themes of inclusivity, transformation and partnerships.

The new White Paper on Science Technology and Innovation (STI) is being implemented through the Decadal Plan (2021-2031), which is aligned to the National Development Plan and informed by the South Africa Foresight Exercise for Science, Technology and Innovation 2030 (SAForSTI), carried out by the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI).


The SAForSTI identified nine STI focus domains for the next 10 years, considering the future of STI in South Africa, as well as the potential of STI to address ongoing societal challenges and support the creation of inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development.


The White Paper and Decadal Plan also prioritise the revitalisation of the agricultural sector through research, development and innovation.


In practice, this means -

(a) developing technologies and innovative solutions that not only increase productivity and competitiveness but also provide sustainable service-delivery solutions;


(b) creating an inclusive economy and transferring technologies and knowledge to the poor and the informal economy;


(c) enhancing institutions' high-end capabilities to develop innovations for inclusive development; and

(d) reducing household food insecurity and increasing sustainability.


We are of the view that science, technology and innovation must support and enhance the strategic priorities of other government departments. For this reason, our agriculture-related work interfaces with the Agriculture and Agro-processing Masterplan, led by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.


Our efforts in this regard are also aligned with our Department's contribution to the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for South Africa.


During the State of the Nation Address this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised the need for collaboration to revitalise our economy and end the inequality and injustice that impedes South Africa's progress. The President highlighted the need for a new social compact between government, business, social partners and communities to grow the economy.

Project history


On 13 November 2020, the Directors-General of the Departments of Science and Innovation, and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, agreed on an approach for the alignment of the Agriculture and Agro-processing Masterplan and the STI Decadal Plan.


The mechanism of the alignment was a two-tier governance process for monitoring the bilateral relations between the two departments through a steering committee chaired by the Directors-General.


Subsequently, a technical task team was established and given formal terms of reference.


The technical task team assisted both departments with the consultation on the masterplan process, as well as input and alignment with the agricultural priorities of the STI Decadal Plan.


We are extremely grateful for this partnership, which we value and wish to guard jealously.


At a bilateral meeting on 27 July 2022, the DS/ and DALRRD Directors-General agreed to co-launch and co-chair the National Biosecurity Hub.


The co-launch approach was proposed mainly because the DSI supports Ha the Agriculture and Agro-processing Masterplan through the deployment of bio-innovation products, processes and technological services to support a competitive, thriving and productive agricultural sector.


Furthermore, the agricultural innovation theory of change proposes several multidisciplinary and multi-institutional science, technology and innovation interventions along the agricultural value chain.


The aim is to intensity agriculture, nutrition security and livelihoods through new knowledge products, technology transfer and adoption, and the provision of enabling mechanisms such as skills development and training.


The National Biosecurity Hub is a key intervention initiated by the DSI, while the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is the competent government regulatory authority. The Biosecurity Hub therefore requires the support of both departments.


The vision of the National Biosecurity Hub is to significantly increase the research capacity currently available to the sanitary and phytosanitary regulatory authorities of South Africa. This will enable the provision of information and research services to clients in the public and private sectors, thereby strengthening biosecurity and meeting the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements of international trade.


Ultimately, the hub will provide government with a platform to facilitate engagements on sanitary and phytosanitary matters, allowing quicker responses and ensuring that appropriate measures are taken in good time. It will dedicate relevant expertise to initiatives in support of plant health, animal health and food safety.


The hub's role-players include industry partners (from producers or growers along value-chain), research support and government stakeholders. A steering committee with representatives of all these role players will guide the national biosecurity programme of action.


DSI contribution to the Biosecurity Hub


The Department of Science and Innovation's Agricultural Bioeconomy Innovation Partnership Programme, known as ABIPP, is responsible for the funding, co-funding, coordination, facilitation and management of multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research programmes focusing on agricultural bioinnovation - products, processes and services. These programmes will contribute to increased productivity, food security and sustainable rural development.


Technology Innovation Agency manages ABIPP currently.


The Department of Science and Innovation allocates R3,5 million per annum to ABIPP, and the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform has committed to providing R5 million for biosecurity over a period of three years.


ABIPP funded the development of a digital platform to support the piloting of tools and technologies using biosecurity data as a test case. This platform, the Information Hub, is a cloud-based, community-driven data platform for transdisciplinary research, hosted here at Innovation Africa as part of the National Biosecurity Hub.


The launch of the National Biosecurity Hub should be seen as an intervention to strengthen the existing efforts of all stakeholders to support robust, sustainable and responsive systems for plant health, animal health and foot safety, and to 8 and food safety, and to achieve sustainability and greater impact in our efforts to ensure biosecurity in agriculture in South Africa.


This includes developing and using information technology to strengthen sanitary and phytosanitary information, and surveillance systems to safeguard agricultural products and processes to facilitate international trade.


All of this will enhance our capacity to respond more effectively to one of the most urgent challenges facing our country, which is the challenge of food security.


Strengthening collaboration with AgriSETA


Ladies and Gentlemen


As you know, my Ministry is also responsible for the Department of Higher Education and Training. We refer to the area in which DHET and the DSI work as the higher education, science and innovation landscape.


The DHETs mandate includes the 21-sector education and training authorities, or SETAs, one of which is the Agriculture Sector Education and Training Authority (AgriSETA), which has been in existence since 2005.


This SETA provides training and development in both the primary and secondary agriculture sectors under a sector skills plan, which is aligned to the overarching objectives of the National Skills Development Plan.


Animal health and biosecurity programmes are focus areas for skills development in the agriculture sector.


Through the AgriSETA, we have also concluded a strategic partnership with DALRRD through a memorandum of agreement (MOA).


Central to the agreement between DALRRD and AgriSETA, is to further the objectives of the National Skills Development Plan 2030, as well as the objectives of the National Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries Education and Training Forum (NALRRDETF).




In conclusion, I wish to thank the University of Pretoria and Innovation Africa for hosting this launch.


I would also like to acknowledge the role and contribution of our partners, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, and the Technology Innovation Agency.


Thank you.


© 2021 Department of Science and Innovations . All Rights Reserved.