The Institutional Research Theme (IRT) “Food, Nutrition and Well-being” seeks to address the emerging societal challenges related to food insecurity, nutrition deficiencies and hunger, especially in Africa. It is seen as a vehicle to create, in the medium term, an Institute of Food, Nutrition and Well-being to bring together all the University’s postgraduate teaching and research expertise and activities in this field in order to ultimately create a Centre of Excellence.
In addressing the aforementioned challenges, the vision of this Institute will be to become the leading international Centre of Excellence in the area of transdisciplinary research and postgraduate training aimed at finding innovative and comprehensive ways of addressing current constraints to attaining the Millennium Development Goals with regard to food, nutrition and well-being in sub-Saharan Africa by the year 2020. The mission of the new institute is to strategically position UP as an internationally recognised Centre of Excellence with a critical mass of researchers focusing on transdisciplinary research and postgraduate training that responds to the needs of stakeholders to promote the long-term health and wellness of people, support sound policy making with regard to food, nutrition and well-being and, together with strategic national, regional and international partners, significantly scale up capacity in this area through the development of leading professionals and researchers.
Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, Director of the newly established Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being
This theme establishes a unique and innovative programme that has so far not been addressed internationally, continentally or at UP. It explores current and complex research questions of global and African relevance through transdisciplinary enquiry that will generate new knowledge and insights to help reduce hunger and poverty in Africa. The IRT will position UP as a Centre of Excellence and provide strategic leadership in a new area of global interest.
The IRT brings together over 70 academic staff employed in the various related areas, thus providing the largest pool of expertise globally. The IRT seeks to build a culture of transdisciplinary enquiry in this area. It provides extensive and significant opportunities for the scaling up of related research and increased postgraduate numbers and publications.
Given the diversity of disciplines represented (such as Veterinary Science, which is not widely offered in Africa) and the depth, experience and international recognition of many of UP’s staff, the IRT will bring considerable visibility to the University’s contribution to African and global research and opportunities for expanded and strengthened networks, partnerships and community engagement. The investment in postgraduate training will make a significant contribution to scaling up research capacity in this area and will direct future research.
The key research themes/programmes to be investigated as part of the IRT are:
Theme A: Sustainable animal-and plant-based food production in a resourceconstrained environment
Theme B: Food safety, biosecurity, public health and regulatory control
Theme C: Functional biomolecules and functional foods
Theme D: Facilitating behaviour change for health and well-being
Theme E: The food security and nutrition impacts of policies and programmes