Research projects

Food production and availability (Led by Dr. Sydney Mavengahama)

Identification of drought tolerate crops, cropping systems, underutilised crops/alternative production systems, efficient utilization of feed resources, promotion of adapted indigenous genetic practices, to improve product quality

Production, utilization and economic value of indigenous food crops for household food security

Factors constraining the productivity of cropping systems among farming households


Food affordability & accessibility (Led by Prof Simon Letsoalo)

Market access by emerging commercial and smallholder vegetable farmers

There are two primary means for accessing food (physically – through own production, or financially – through purchase from the market). Concerning the latter, research under this area focuses explicitly on whether sources of healthy food are natural to get to, at a manageable distance from home or work, using affordable and convenient personal or public transportation.


Food safety (Led by Prof Collins N. Ateba)

Study of the prevalence, mapping and typing to afford enough and healthy food at all times

It aims to develop and optimized methods for food residues in food of animal origins and animal feed to ensure food safety and security.

All three sub-program are to train highly qualified postgraduate students that will be able to address societal needs.


List of current projects


  1. The potential application of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy technology in probing the nutritional effects of condensed tannins present in browse tree leaves and fruits.
  2. Integrating geo-physical imaging in the evaluation of tropical forages by traditional and non-destructive chlorophyll techniques.
  3. Evaluation of the ability of derived vegetation indices and cover fraction to estimate rangeland aboveground biomass in semi-arid environments.
  4. Towards the optimisation of canola meal as a dietary protein source for Japanese quails, Coturnix coturnix japonica, indigenous chickens and small ruminants.
  5. Dietary mitigation strategies against housing-induced stress in fattening South African Mutton Merino lambs.
  6. Studies on the resident root-nodule bacteria from landraces of Vigna subterranean (Bambara groundnut)
  7. Protection of maize by Pseudomonas Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria against Fusarium graminearum
  8. Study of Zea mays and Vigna unguiculata rhizosphere diversity – premises for potential applications in bioeconomy
  9. Actinomycetes impact on drought tolerance in maize
  10. Bambara root-nodule bacteria N2 fixation potential and determination of their symbiotic effectiveness
  11. Biological control of soil-dwelling pests in cocoa agroforests using encapsulated CO2 impregnated with entomopathogenic fungi
  12. Characterization of the elicited plant responses in South-African maize varieties to Fusarium graminearum
  13. Functional selection of biocontrol PGPR able to inhibit the virulence of Fusarium graminearum both in vitro and in planta
  14. Genetic diversity and nitrogen fixation in underutilized tropical legumes (Sphenostylis Stenocarpa and Psophocarpus tetragonobolus L.)
  15. Identification of Pseudomonas mechanisms contributing to maize protection against F. graminearum
  16. Molecular selection and taxonomic diversity of biocontrol PGPR able to inhibit the growth of Fusarium graminearum
  17. Molecular, functional and structural diversity of ammonia oxidizing, phosphate solubilizing and nitrogen fixing soil bacteria in South African forest soil
  18. Predominant bacterial assemblage in Zea mays
  19. Rhizobium and Mycorrhizal fungi on the enhancement of drought tolerance in soybean (Glycine max) under the semi-arid environment of SA
  20. Surveillance of key microbiome in rhizospheric soil
  21. Compost utilization as soil amendment for increase crop production and soil health improvement
  22. Improved agronomic practices for increase maize production and food security in North-West Province
  23. Increasing grain legumes production by smallholder farmers under dry land for food security and nutrition