First cohort graduate from specialist plant health and biosecurity course

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26 November 2020
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First cohort graduate from specialist plant health and biosecurity course

THE first students to embark upon Harper Adams University’s specialist postgraduate certificate in Plant Health and Biosecurity have now graduated.

In response to demand identified in the 2014 government Biosecurity Strategy, Harper Adams introduced the programme to address the need to work across the education sector at all levels and develop a formal qualification for Plant Health and Seed Inspectors.

The first part-time students, all employed by Defra and other plant health organisations, commenced their studies in 2018 and graduated this year with their PgC in Plant Health and Biosecurity.

Plant biosecurity is the protection of plants from non-indigenous pests and pathogens.  This has increasing importance with ever increasing global trade of plants and plant products and the general movement of goods and people across the globe.

Breaches in plant biosecurity have potential serious implications for food security, trade, market access, production costs and, ultimately the profitability and sustainability of plant industries. Non-indigenous pests and pathogens can also transform the countryside if introduced,as they can remove large numbers of trees from our environment such as a result of Dutch Elm Disease and Ash Dieback.

The course was developed and delivered in collaboration with Defra and Fera Sciences Ltd. It is taught via blended learning, with a mixture of online delivery and face-to-face sessions and covers all aspects of plant biosecurity.

“The timing of this first graduation from the course is very fitting as this is the International Year of Plant Health, with activities to raise global awareness of how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development,” said Simon Edwards, Professor of Plant Pathology at Harper Adams University. “It is hoped that these and future graduates of the course will contribute to keeping our native plants free from invasive species.”

Chief Plant Health Officer at Defra, Nicola Spence, added: “The creation of this Postgraduate Certificate in Plant Health and Biosecurity at Harper Adams University was set up in partnership with Defra and APHA to provide higher level training in plant health and biosecurity skills.

“The course will upskill plant health professionals and is officially recognised by the Plant Health Professional Register. I am delighted that the first cohort is graduating this year, which seems fitting during our first ever International year of Plant Health.”

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