Elmarie Rabie, researcher at the ARC-TSC, is retiring after 40 year service

Elmarie Rabie started her career with the department of Agriculture as a lecturer in Entomology and Plant Pathology at the Glen Agricultural College in 1982. She continued lecturing Agronomy to the second year students while doing her honors degree in Entomology at the University of the OFS in 1983. She was then appointed as a nematologist on bananas at the then Institute of Citrus and Subtropical Fruit in Nelspruit, with Peter Willers as her supervisor. Three of the subjects of this appointment (bananas, nematodes & Nelspruit) were completely strange/new/unknown to her – never been to Nelspruit, never seen a nematode before and knew bananas as something that you buy from the shelf. Her first formal training in nematology was the short course in Nematology at the PU vir CHO in July 1984 which she did amongst others with Heather Gabrielle, Pat Hey, Cheryl Venter (Bolton), Henk vd Westhuizen and Jan Botha. The course was presented by Drs Esther and Meyer as well as Prof Loots.

During her 5 years at the institute in Nelspruit she completed her master’s degree on ‘The association of Meloidogyne species with False Panama disease’. She also did trials on different pre-plant nematode control treatments of bananas (solarisation, fumigation, chemical, cover crops), explored some extraordinary application methods of nematicides via the stem of banana plants as well as executing trials on the control of Radophilis similis.  She was responsible for the diagnostic services for banana planting permits as well as a nematode survey on coffee.

Her first attendance of a symposium was the NSSA symposium organized by Hans Hugo in Stellenbosch in 1985, where she presented a poster on the stem application of systemic nematicides in bananas. Not really knowing what a poster presentation was (or not reading the specs properly!), her poster was 2 and half poster boards big and contained very entertaining caricature-like drawings (done by Blackie Swarts) of the pros (environmental friendly, concentrated systemic efficacy, etc.) and cons (dead birds, less efficient in soil) of these application methods. She also met her husband during this period and got married in March 1987. From that time she became a member of the NSSA and she attended most NSSA conferences. Elmarie was never directly involved in the organizing of a NSSA conference because of the distance between Hluhluwe and Nelspruit but she was always ready to send dried pineapples for the goody bags. 

She was transferred to the Hluhluwe research station in northern KwaZulu-Natal when her husband took  a position at the Sappi offices in Kwambonambi in 1989. Here she started her career as a researcher on pineapples.  Her research responsibilities quickly changed from the control of pineapple nematodes to all aspects of pineapple cultivation. She also took over the management of the research farm and had to learn about maintenance of tractors and implements, electric fences, boreholes, reservoirs, roads, irrigation, etc. as well as labour relations. Saying this, she is the pineapple queen and has completed 33 years of nematode research on pineapples. During this period, she has investigated basically every possible aspect of nematode control on pineapple, an enormous amount of knowledge that will be difficult to match. Luckily she is just a phone call away…

She is also the author of “Nematodes in pineapple” in our book and has written several other chapters, publications and reports on pineapples.

And after 40 years of service in the ARC, she is now retiring. The ARC and the Hluhluwe farmers community are really sad to see her go. However, she will still be involved with the Hluhluwe pineapple growers as a research coordinator from her office in Pietermaritzburg and therefore not completely lost for research. Elmarie we wish you the best time ever! Now it is time to do what you always wanted to do but never had the time for. And maybe you will find the time to visit us during a NSSA conference.

Enjoy the time ahead, be proud of what you have achieved, the person you are and the difference you have made.

Mieke and the rest of the Nematology fraternity

To my nematology family

Thank you very much for the lovely surprise that I have received. It is seldom that I receive such a big bunch of beautiful flowers – it made me feel very special!  I am having the most fond memories of all the nematology meetings, whether it was a symposium or workshop, as well as the more than huge social events!  One never felt as if you were not part of the family –  even though you were not a “pure” nematologist anymore and could not present at every symposium.  I am still member of the society and will definitely keep up with your doings via the newsletter and if at all possible – will attend the next symposium. Thank you – Baie dankie – Ngiyabonga!



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