University researchers have been urged to leverage on the application of ICT skills using relevant software technologies for data management in order to improve agriculture, food security and nutrition across the country.
This was revealed, Monday, September 4, during the official opening of the four-day workshop at JKUAT, organized by the Legume Centre of Excellence in Food and Nutrition Security (LCEFoNS) – a twelve year research project under VLIR-UOS initiative that brings together JKUAT and Belgian partners – Katholic University (Leuven) and Vrije University of Brussels.
In her address to the participants, Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Production and Extension, Prof Mary Abukutsa, noted that the workshop on Resource Mobilization is intended to build the capacity of JKUAT data science and agriculture researchers to mobilize resources.
On the utilitarian goal underpinning the training, Prof. Abukutsa reiterated the significance of the initiative noting, “Given that there is generally a poor resource mobilization or fundraising culture in Kenyan universities, especially in the context of research, it is expected that the workshop will make a difference toward improving the situation.”
Prof. Abukutsa appreciated the workshop facilitator, Prof. Coen De Roover from Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Free University of Belgium, for finding time to share his skills and knowledge with JKUAT researchers. The workshop, she further observed, is part of the ICT in Legume Support Project of LCEFoNS which supports partnerships between universities in Belgium and the South, looking for innovative responses to global and local challenges.
Project Coordinator, Prof. Daniel Sila, while giving a contextual understanding of the LCEFoNs project 4 as well as other VLIR-OUS projects in JKUAT said, the training forms a starting nucleus that will be critical in the university’s quest to train a corpus of topnotch researchers with capacity to mobilize resources by leveraging on ICT applications.
In his introductory remarks, Project 4 (ICT Support for Legume Research) team leader and Dean, School of Computing and Information Technology, Prof. Stephen Kimani, said the specific objectives of the ICT Support Project include enhancing JKUAT’s research capacity in data science and to develop a supportive, transversal set of skills and tools that will help JKUAT improve her research performance in data science and food security.
Workshop participants are primarily JKUAT researchers from LCEFoNs programme team members, students and from other VLIR-UOS funded projects, academic staff from Faculty of Agriculture, School of Computing and IT as well as School of Mathematical Sciences.
The JKUAT based legume research programme that focuses on beans, cowpeas and green grams, was launched in April this year, and is coordinated by Prof. Sila from (JKUAT) and Prof. Marc Hendricks (KULeuven). The programme has received research grants to the tune of Euros 3735,000.00 (Ksh. 410 million) under VLIR-UOS initiative – whose Country Strategy for Kenya, identifies the importance of building the capacity of tertiary education institutions and its contribution to food and nutrition security.