Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has announced the appointment of Dr Frikkie Botha to lead its research division, filling the pivotal role of Executive Manager, Technology, within the industry-owned company. Dr Botha comes to the role with an extensive Australian and international career in sugarcane research, including more than 35 years’ experience in academic, corporate and entrepreneurial R&D.
SRA CEO Mr Neil Fisher said that Dr Botha had previously been SRA’s Executive Manager, Strategic Initiatives, and he has held previous roles in the Australian sugarcane industry at BSES and the Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC).
He is also a former Managing Director of the South African Sugarcane Research Institute, a Director of the Institute for Plant Biotechnology, and Professor of Plant Biotechnology at the Universities of Kwa-Zulu Natal and Stellenbosch. He is currently an honorary Professor at the University of Queensland and executive member of the International Society of Sugarcane Technologists.
“Dr Botha is well known and respected within the Australian sugarcane industry and has an extensive scientific record,” Mr Fisher said. “His skills as a leader will assist SRA’s scientists to continue to deliver valued solutions for a growing sugarcane industry.”
Dr Botha, who also oversees the SRA Yellow Canopy Syndrome research program, said he looked forward to working with SRA’s researchers to drive profitability and productivity for sugarcane growers and millers. “The single biggest area of investment for SRA is plant breeding and the development of new sugarcane varieties for the industry,” Dr Botha said. “In addition, SRA research also extends across other critical focus areas including soil health and nutrient management; pest, disease and weed management; farming systems and production management; milling efficiency and technology; knowledge and technology transfer and adoption; and capability development, attraction and retention.
“There is a vast range of exciting research opportunities on the horizon for sugarcane growers and millers, including big data, robots and automation, molecular plant breeding, plus numerous others.
“SRA is working to ensure that these and other opportunities provide useful value for growers and millers, and to position the industry at the leading edge of innovation.”