As part of its strategy to promote research and innovation linked to Kenya’s development goals, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) last year committed a total of over Kshs, 50 million to support promising research and innovation projects by faculty and students. Prof. Mabel Imbuga, the Vice Chancellor said the University allocated Kshs. 28 million to fund eight new research projects spread in the various disciplines of agriculture, ICT, Engineering and Enterprise Development.
Speaking at the University’s 23rd Graduation Ceremony, Friday June 27, which saw a total of 3,082 candidates graduate with various degrees and diplomas, Prof. Imbuga singled out two projects; one in ICT aimed at developing appropriate ICT solutions that would bridge information gaps hoped to enhance maize production and marketing in Kenya.
‘At the Institute of Biotechnology Research, our scientists are undertaking a study characterizing indigenous poultry and their wild relatives from different agro-ecological zones in Kenya. The purpose is to determine the genetic make-up of the indigenous poultry that makes them resistant to biotic stress to increase food production’
The vice chancellor added JKUAT was currently implementing DANIDA funded Sorghum value chain development consortium that was incubating 12 business ideas with the potential to create wealth among the country’s industry and farmers. ‘The University was also working closely with Keroche Foundation to fabricate appropriate and affordable agricultural value adding equipment, besides offering targeted business incubation to local farmers for wealth creation’.
Prof. Imbuga told the ceremony JKUAT increased collaborations with industry was crucial in providing the much needed practical support to training which she said made JKUAT students to excel.
Presiding over the ceremony Prof. Geoffrey Moriaso Ole Maloiy, the Chancellor called on faculty to intensify the technology transfer initiative to foster national development. Urging all in JKUAT to play their rightful role, the Chancellor likened a University to a healthy tree with faculties and departments acting as the necessary roots that fuel future growth of a tree while other university support services served as tree trunks and branches that he said provided resources to support a tree’s development.
The Chancellor praised JKUAT research progress saying the University had over the years produced remarkable scholars who had excelled in various fields. He singled out Prof. Mary Abukutsa Onyango for her pioneering research on African indigenous vegetables that recently won her the prestigious 2014 Edinburg medal, while Dr. Joseph Wafula Ndieyira, a former don of JKUAT, now based at University of London Centre for Nanotechnology has developed a new technology for rapidly measuring the level of antibiotic drug molecules in human blood serum that was recently published in Nature, an influential journal.
‘Dr. Johnson Kinyua, Dr. Steven Ger Nyanjom and Dr. Sheila Ommeh both of JKUAT, working with other international scientists, succeeded in sequencing tsetse fly genome of the sleeping sickness disease vector; that is slated to make a major contribution in the control of trypanosomiases’.
Dr. Ekuru Aukot, Council Chair reported JKUAT was embarking on an programmes to expand its physical facilities to cope with increased demand of the University’s academic programmes. Dr. Aukot announced Council had set a side Kshs. 9 billion to be used in major construction works for five separate facilities to host; College of Engineering and Technology Block, College of Human Resource Development Complex, Extension of the Common Lecture Building, Westlands and Mombasa CBD Campuses buildings.
JKUAT had as well been successfully expanding its Corporate Social Responsibility activities, the Chairman said, citing the current successful empowerment of the physically challenged persons within Juja area. ‘Through the project the targeted persons have received assistance including medical assistance, counseling services and economic empowerment through provision of start-up capital for business activities’.
Cabinet Secretary Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi reminded Universities in Kenya the country’s development goals were heavily anchored on the institutions’ quality of teaching, research and leaderships. ‘As a Ministry therefore, we encourage our institutions of learning to conform to quality and ethical standards as outlined in the Universities’ Act 2012 and other statutory requirements’
Prof. Kaimenyi in a speech read for him by Prof. Collette Suda, Principal Secretary for Science and Technology, told Universities in Kenya to ensure they integrated their teaching and research activities with those of the l East Africa Community. ‘In this way you will remain competitive and relevant in the new dispensation’
During the occasion Prof. Ole Maloiy awarded a total of 322 degrees at Masters level and 25 doctorate degrees including a Doctor of Science in Conservation Biology (honoris causa) to Dr.Richard Leakey, world renowned paleontologist and conservationist for his selfless service in the preservation of endangered flora and fauna.
The ceremony was also attended by host of dignitaries including former Attorney General, Charles Mugane Njonjo, H.E Dr. Evans Kidero and Mwangi wa Iria , Governors for Nairobi and Muranga counties respectively and former Higher Educaton Minister, Prof. Margaret Kamar