China-Kenya Agricultural Cooperation Bears Fruit at JKUAT

Prof. Ngumi (center) presents some JKUAT goodies to Amb. Pingjian (right) as Council Chair, Amb. Maalim looks on

JKUAT and Chinese agriculture researchers have identified suitable treatments to increase productivity of a Kenyan maize variety, including in dry areas. The crop that was grown in the Modern Agricultural Demonstration Area at the JKUAT based Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre (SAJOREC) attained maturity at the expected time and a 50% higher harvest compared to fields in the surrounding areas which were planted with the same variety.

Ability to leverage technology to increase yields is now recognized as one of the most sustainable ways to overcome the debilitating impacts of climate change and increase food safety and security. The research team at SAJOREC have, since 2017, worked on improving productivity of local maize verities while also limiting the impacts on the environment.

Following the success, researchers behind the project now intend to replicate the work which they believe can significantly ease the shortage of maize in Kenya and other parts of Africa.

According to the Project’s Principal Investigator, Prof. David Mburu, the project doesn’t involve creation of new maize seed verities. Instead, it simply deploys specific agronomic practices which starts with understanding the soils type and conditions.

Other farming practices such as spacing, matching maize variety to zones; mulching and pest and disease control are also carefully curated to produce optimal production scenarios.

Amb. Pingjian (right) examines the maize yield at SAJOREC, JKUAT

Speaking at SAJOREC during a ceremony to mark the research milestone, China’s Ambassador to Kenya, Dr. Zhou Pingjian said that China has placed high priority in agricultural cooperation with Kenya and other African countries.

The envoy gave the example in China which has effectively utilized science and education to sustainably feed its population which currently stands above 1.4 billion people. With relatively more arable land compared to China, the diplomat noted that Kenya too, can attain food security by deploying technology.

In a meeting with the Chinese envoy at JKUAT, Vice Chancellor Prof. Victoria Ngumi noted that SAJOREC had emerged as SAJOREC as an important platform of scientific cooperation between Chinese and African scientists.

Prof. Ngumi noted that the new maize production technology introduced at SAJOREC had the potential to amplify Kenya’s food security while reinforcing the need for international research partnerships in solving cross border problems.

“In this project, a Chinese technology was applied in Kenya and the outcome now promises to revolutionize maize production with potential impacts going beyond Kenya,” Prof Ngumi said.

On his part, Chair of JKUAT Council, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim Mohamed lauded the Chinese government noting that SAJOREC’s impact had been immense. He urged the government to borrow a leaf from China to kick poverty and hunger out of Kenya.

“We know China’s track record of getting many people out of poverty and hunger yearly through strategic planning and agricultural productivity. “said Amb. Maalim.

Amb. Pingjian (front center) is joined by JKUAT researchers at the Modern Agriculture Demonstration Area at SAJOREC

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