Researchers, scholars and herbal medicine practitioners drawn from various countries in Eastern and Central African region have concluded a two-day International Conference on Natural Products Research Network for East and Central Africa (NAPRECA) at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
During the conference which opened, Thursday, February 8, 2018, various presenters emphasized the contribution of research and information sharing towards sustainable exploitation of natural products. They highlighted Africa’s potential to harness indigenous knowledge and practices while at the same time advancing the science of natural products.
Welcoming the conference participants, the JKUAT Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Administration Prof. Victoria Ngumi, who represented the Vice Chancellor during the official opening of the conference, “acknowledged the aptness of the Conference theme – “Utilization of Natural Products for the Betterment of the Livelihood of Mankind,” noting that the conference was taking place at a time the humankind is facing several challenges.
“Researchers should leverage on the knowledge gained in specific research areas to provide sustainable solutions to the problems affecting people in the region through the utilization of natural products,” Prof. Ngumi stated. She lauded NAPRECA for exposing young scientists in natural products research area to the nuances of state-of-the-art research techniques and urged them to sustain the momentum of vitality in the Network’s activities among member countries.
Prof. Ngumi, an expert in plant physiology with research interests in conservation of indigenous plants, in her presentation titled: “Indigenous knowledge of plants and its importance in utilization of natural products” said studies have indicated that many medicinal plants are over exploited leading to their being threatened, and further argued that plants with important characteristics and natural products are likely to be lost forever called for the use of botanical gardens and herbal gardens as conservation centres of endangered plants.
Kericho County Governor, Prof. Paul Chepkwony in his presentation titled: Intellectual property: practical steps in Patenting,” urged researchers and innovators to patent their inventions in order to curb loss of intellectual property rights.
Drawing from his experience in intellectual property rights with about ten patents, the organic chemistry professor and JKUAT alumnus, took the researchers through the journey of successful patenting of inventions outlining the critical steps that any inventor needs to appreciate in order to benefit from his or her invention.
Kiambu County Executive Committee Member in charge of Water and Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. David Kuria while acknowledging the significant work done by the researchers, urged NEPRECA to partner with Kiambu County and help in finding solutions to challenges facing the local community.
The conference brought together researchers and practitioners in natural products from Kenya, Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, to deliberate on their research findings and to show-case innovative products aimed at encouraging communities to take the initiative in seeking solutions to underlying problems in health related areas using natural products.
Established in 1984, NAPRECA’s main objective is to initiate, develop and promote research in the area of Natural Products in Eastern and Central and Africa sub-region. Dean, School of Physical Sciences, Prof. Thuku, and the Chairman, Chemistry Department, Dr. Salim Ali who, together with Dr. Leonard Gitu, serve as members of the Organizing Committee, also spoke at the conference.