Staying connected for plant health

February 3, 2022

The Crawford Fund has a long association with the Australasian Plant Pathology Society (APPS) in arranging support for early to mid-career plant pathologists from neighbouring countries to be involved in the Society’s biennial conferences for capacity building purposes. In late November 2021, APPS hosted an online conference, pre-conference workshops, student mentoring sessions, poster presentations and the conference itself, with plant pathologists and researchers from all over the world in (virtual) attendance.

As part of the APPS “Staying Connected for Plant Health” conference, the Crawford Fund, APPS, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) supported the Pre-Conference Workshop for Early Career Plant Pathologists from Developing Countries which was convened by Dr Christine Horlock from Biosecurity Queensland.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide a professional development opportunity for early career plant pathologists from Asia, Australia, the Pacific and New Zealand to practise presenting their work.

All the attendees benefited from e-mentors who supported the delegates in the preparation of their written material and their PPTs at the conference, with most of the mentors having been part of the Crawford Fund’s long-term project in Laos to improve crop and soil health, biosecurity, food safety, weed control and, ultimately, food security.

Our NSW committee supported the following three attendees:

  • Dau Thi Vinh – Nghe An Cultivation and Plant Protection Sub-Department, Vinh, Vietnam 
  • Tran Thi Kim Anh – Agrotechnology Center, Hiep Duc District, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam
  • Viengvilay Vorlachith – Agriculture Section, Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office, Champasak Province, Lao PDR                                                                       

And our Victorian committee supported the following four attendees:

  • Syafiqa Pramunadipta – PhD Student, University Gadjah Mada, Indonesia
  • Eirene Brugman – Master Student, University Gadjah Mada, Indonesia
  • Chanokned Senwanna – PhD Student, Chiang Mai University, Thailand
  • Farhad Saeidi Naeini – PhD Student, Plant Protection Disease Research Institute, Iran

Others in the workshop streamed in from India, Fiji, Samoa, Cambodia, Philippines, Nepal and Tonga.

Syafiqa Pramunadipta from the Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

For a flavour of the impact of the experience, here are some comments from some of the attendees supported by the Fund:

At the event, I had the chance to do video presentation of my research with eminent researchers from around the world. I’m grateful to be able to participate, listen to other presenters’ research findings, and discuss. This event was beneficial to me because it expanded my knowledge of current plant pathology research.”
– Syafiqa Pramunadipta from the Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.

“This course was a great opportunity to benefit from the guidance and experience of Dr. Nicol. During the conference, I participated in most of the programs live. The findings of a number of articles were very interesting and inspiring to me. It was a good opportunity to benefit from the scientific opinions of a number of Australian plant pathologists and to use them in future research in my country.”
– Farhad Saeidi Naeini, Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection

“This activity increased my knowledge and gave me the courage to try new experiences and hone my communication skills. I met many researchers, academics, and professionals from different countries, who helped develop my ideas, and raise visibility to enhance the knowledge and benefits of my research. Many researchers have increased knowledge on new concepts, techniques, and types of equipment – information that is beginning to develop and cannot be found from articles and books. They were inspiring, energising, and gave me the courage to try and think outside the box to approach future research.”
Chanokned Senwanna, PhD Student, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

“This conference significantly helped me upgrade my knowledge about the current development in plant pathology and deepen my expertise in my discipline. I had the chance to present my research paper on “the population genetics of Phytophthora palmivora from Indonesia” in a workshop program for developing countries. I had a great discussion with the experts and received lots of constructive feedback. As a student this kind of opportunity is excellent to help stay up to date with the current science in this discipline, expand my network and give me insight into building my early career in plant pathology.”
–  Eirene Brugman, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia