Researchers working under the Horticultural Innovation and Learning for Improved Nutrition and Livelihood in East Africa (HORTINLEA) project funded by the Ministry of Education and Research of Germany, have made significant achievements in generating knowledge on African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs). This knowledge covers genetic diversity and seed systems, plant nutrition and fertilizer management, water management and irrigation, pest and disease management, harvesting and postharvest handling, value addition as well as health benefits of AIVs.
This was revealed during the official opening of the 5th HORTINLEA Annual General Meeting and Stakeholders Forum at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Monday, March 12, 2018.
Addressing participants attending the week-long forum expected to attract over 100 stakeholders, JKUAT Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Mary Abukutsa, lauded the project activities which she said, “will meaningfully contribute to the body of scientific knowledge as well as economic well-being of our communities.”
Prof. Imbuga noted that while Kenya as a country is highly dependent on agriculture with horticulture leading in terms of foreign exchange earnings, “the weak links among the various aspects of production have made it difficult for the small holder growers to benefit.”
She therefore expressed hope that research initiatives under HORTINLEA “will continue to play a major role in strengthening the horticultural value chain because they have the potential to directly impact on the small growers thus contributing to the realization of the country’s development agenda under the Kenya Vision 2030 and the Big Four.”
She acknowledged HORTINLEA’s Principal Investigator, Prof. Wolfgang Boklemann of the Humboldt University of Berlin for spearheading the project and the Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research of Germany for funding the project.
Prof. John Wesonga, the local Project Coordinator said, different research groups are currently investigating various components of the horticultural value chain in order to gather knowledge about the production, quality, marketing and consumption of indigenous vegetables.
Climate change and the prospects of reduced rainfall are some of the issues that have motivated our research teams to generate climate change scenarios and come up with appropriate vegetable varieties that are suitable for the climate conditions likely to be experienced in years to come.
Besides taking stock of project activities, stakeholders will also explore how they can further engage when the project runs its full cycle mid this year, said Prof. Wesonga.
The meeting provides a forum for stakeholders to showcase and pitch latest technologies to small scale farmers, discussions on upcoming book on AIVs, especially the key research findings and recommendations with policy makers and decision makers in agriculture. Industry players will also make attempts to forge possible collaborations aimed at enhancing farmers’ access to technologies.
As an interdisciplinary research project on food security, HORTINLEA seeks to improve the livelihood and nutritional situation of the rural and urban poor through horticultural crops especially the African leafy indigenous vegetables in East Africa, particularly Kenya,
Stakeholders expected to participate include policy makers, private sector, extension workers, farmers, key consultants and researchers.