Ever noticed how everyone is always looking for fresh and quality products to buy in a grocery store? The taste and texture of the food is important. We all want to source the best quality products to be used in the preparation of our dishes. We tend to accept a fresh product as a given. But have you ever really thought about where that beautiful red tomato, shiny green pepper or even mielie-meal comes from? Well, it’s from healthy seed and healthy crops of course. The healthier the seed and crops, the better the quality of the meal on your table will be. You could help influence the production of high-quality food by becoming a plant pathologist.

A day in the life of a plant pathologist

Plant pathologists work daily to ensure that farmers have the healthiest crops to produce healthy plants. They identify diseases, pests, and other health problems a plant may experience. They do this by studying bacteria, fungi, viruses and insects to see the effects they have on plants. In essence, their work involves:

  • Scouting crops for diseases.
  • Collecting samples for diagnosis in the laboratory.
  • Collection and isolation of cultures.
  • Growing cultures and micro-organisms.
  • Performing inoculation of plants.
  • Diagnosis of pathogens.

Plant pathologists also look at the plant’s growing environment such as the soil and weather conditions. They do a lot of my research in a lab to gain a better understanding of factors involved in plant diseases and strive to develop or evaluate disease control measures which are not detrimental to the environment or public health. They work with national and international trade organisations and governmental departments regarding the phyto-sanitary requirements of moving seed across borders.

Who can become a plant pathologist?

Are you creative, inquisitive and enjoy problem-solving? Do you enjoy the outdoors? Are you passionate about plants and diseases? Do you like the idea of growing healthy plants in healthy soil for healthy produce? If this sounds good to you, then this is the right career for you. You would need to work hard, pass Grade 12 with good grades, and get into a tertiary institute. You need to get very good marks in subjects like Maths and Physical Science. After completing Grade 12, consider applying for a BSc in Plant Pathology at any one of South Africa’s tertiary institutes.

In essence, plant pathologists look after the health of our plants. If you love a good meal, and if the taste and texture of food is important to you, then consider taking this career path. For more information on courses available and requirements, follow SANSOR on Facebook or Instagram.