The Global South

A plant research center such as PSB can play a significant role in assisting countries in the Global South in mitigating climate change and developing sustainable agriculture through several strategies, such as:

  • Sharing Knowledge and Technology Transfer:
    • Collaborate in research and development projects focusing on climate-smart agriculture, sharing insights into crop varieties that are more tolerant to extreme weather conditions.
    • Offer technology transfer for advanced agricultural practices, including precision farming and efficient water use systems.
  • Capacity Building:
    • Conduct training programs for researchers, farmers, and agricultural technicians from the Global South in sustainable farming techniques, plant breeding, and other modern agricultural practices.
    • Facilitate the exchange of scientists and researchers to foster a rich exchange of knowledge and skills.
  • Developing Climate-Resilient Crops:
    • Engage in genetic research to develop and disseminate seeds of crops that are resistant to pests, diseases, and extreme climate conditions like drought, flooding, and salinity.
  • Promoting Agrobiodiversity:
    • Work on conserving genetic diversity in crops, providing a wide gene pool for breeding programs aimed at sustainability.
    • Encourage and assist in the creation of seed banks in the Global South to preserve indigenous crop varieties.
  • Open Access Resources:
    • Provide open access to research outputs, databases, and tools developed by the research center, enabling low-cost access to cutting-edge information and technology.

PSB is increasingly involved in initiatives that facilitate the above-mentioned strategies. Most importantly, PSB is collaborating with IPBO, the UGent - VIB International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (VIB-IPBO), which was established in 2000 as a partnership of the VIB and Ghent University (UGent). VIB-IPBO's Vision is to contribute to the participatory engagement of agricultural economies and local actors in the least developed communities to new sustainable agricultural systems, to enable a healthy planet with a sound social, cultural, economic and environmental development.’ IPBO’s objective is to contribute to overthrowing some of the main barriers identified in transferring agro-biotechnological innovations and knowledge to promote food and nutrition security among women and men smallholder farmers in the least developed economies. The main objective of VIB-IPBO is to promote scientific advances in agriculture by enhancing researchers' and technical experts' capacity by fostering scientific collaboration between African and Belgian organizations and developing enabling policies for technology exchange. 

PSB is also a steering committee member of the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC). The AOCC aims to, besides training African breeders with the newest technologies such as CRISPR-CAS, sequence the genomes of more than 100 African neglected or under-utilized crops, as well as to re-sequence hundred lines for each species. This way, the AOCC tries to help the national agriculture research systems to develop locally available crops and to supply nutritious and high yielding varieties by transferring the genomics technologies to breeding schemes. Malnutrition, hunger, and stunting, particularly for children, are a big challenge in Africa. This can be addressed, at least to some extent, by adequately supplementing diets of children and women with nutritious fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which can be produced and consumed locally. Also crops resilient to drought and diseases are targeted for study, to fight climate change and global warming in Africa.

Yves Van de Peer also has a part-time position at the university of Pretoria (UP), where he collaborates with plant biologists and evolutionary biologists studying the Cape Flora, one of the most diverse biomes in the world, and on local, endemic plants. A research program is also set up to study drought-adaptation in plants in the Namib desert.