Dear Fellow SASAS members
There is no doubt that 2020 has been one of the most difficult years in the history of our learned society as the pandemic almost brought the whole globe to a complete halt.
Despite numerous challenges associated with the pandemic, the agricultural sector remains a beacon of hope as all other economic sectors are on a slippery slope. It seems the pandemic is yet to end with the infection rate surging again. As some parts of our country are entering the so-called second wave, it is important that we exercise caution to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
The pandemic has brought a new normal whereby most in-person activities are discouraged (e.g. training). Virtual platforms such as webinars have become the order of the day. We noted that the society could have played a more active role in providing virtual training sessions and information dissemination opportunities. In fact, we have done dismally in this area as a society, and wish to thank some of our valued members for bringing this to our attention. The society will put more effort to improve our performance and ensure our visibility. We are pleased that the SASAS Kwazulu–Natal Branch is working with the KZN Department of Agriculture to present a virtual event focusing on the impact of Covid-19 on agriculture. SASAS is an important mouthpiece in animal agriculture and we should play an important role in bringing our perspective to the public debate on the impact of Covid-19 on livestock production and related industries.
On the scientific front, the editorial team of our refereed journal (South African of Animal Science) continues to do a splendid job as shown by the impact factor of 0,847. Equally, significant progress has been made towards increasing the number of articles in our non-peer reviewed journal (Applied Animal Husband and Rural Development). We encourage you to support this journal so that it can reach the required number of articles per year for accreditation purposes. More information about our journals is accessible on our website at https://www.sasas.co.za/. We wish to extend our appreciation to the editorial team for the job well done. Please note that some of the long-serving sub-editors who have dedicated most of their lives to the journal will be retiring early next year and we will be replacing them with new sub-editors.
As the year ends, it is important that we take stock of some of the key developments in our society and contemplate the priorities for next year. In our previous communique, members were informed about a process of appointing a service provider for secretarial services. Council is pleased to inform you that the society has concluded the process and entered into a 5-year contract as of 1 September 2020 with HCS Health Communications (Pty) Ltd. Their offices are in Lynwood, Pretoria and are reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org. HCS Health Communications is actively involved in our industry and brings a wealth of experience and industry knowledge. We hope that you will be of assistance as they accustom with SASAS duties. The new secretariat is already hard at work and some of you would have received communication from them. We have realised that our distribution list may be outdated. You are encouraged to contact our secretariat using the email provided above to update your contact details.
Council would like to express its appreciation to Prof Jannes van Ryssen for the many years of dedicated and selfless service to the society as executive secretary and editor in chief and wish him a deserved and earned retirement.
An area that remains a challenge is the payment of membership, which seem to be associated with our move to the new online payment system through our website. Members are therefore encouraged to pay their membership fees before the end of the year to ensure that they are in good standing.
Council held its last meeting this year on the 26th November 2020. One of the key decisions were on increasing of annual membership fees. The membership fee was increased from R900 to R950 for full member while the fee for student members remain the same at R150. The annual fees for international members remain the same. The new fees structure will be implemented effective from 1 April 2021. However, members renewing their membership prior to 1 April 2021 through the website will be eligible for an early bird registration at the present fees of R900.
Our Professional Development Committee has been engaging with SACNASP in relation to the current CPD points which ends in 2022 to discuss potential extension as the current year has affected the ability of our members to obtain CPD points. Please note that extension has not been granted in this regard. Council is doing its utmost best to ensure that enough opportunities are created for our members to get CPD points especially those in the “platteland” where opportunities to earn points are few. Council will be approaching you as relevant experts in the different disciplines of animal science to assist with the validation of events for earning CPD points. Members are encouraged to update their CPD points for 2020 through the SACNASP website (https://www.sacnasp.org.za). Members are able to download their membership certificate for membership of a scientific Society from the SASAS website members section to claim the CPD point on offer.
We continue to be actively involved in international professional affairs through our membership to the World Association of Animal Production (WAAP) (http://www.waap.it). The association is in the process of planning for the World Congress on Animal Production in 2023 and we are making contributions regarding the topics that should be included in the programme. Council wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Prof Norman Casey who continues to be actively involved at WAAP on behalf of SASAS.
Following the cancellation of this year’s congress, good progress is being made with the arrangements for the 2021 congress by the Northern Branch. Please be on the lookout for an official communication regarding the SASAS 2021 Congress from the organisers.
In conclusion, the festive season is in our midst. We wish you and your family a happy holiday and hope that you will use the recess to recuperate and look forward to taking 2021 head-on.
Prof Norman Maiwashe
President: Council of the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS)
10 December 2020