Food security of a nation entails not only the availability of adequate and nutritious food but also proper conservation of natural agricultural resources. This is according to Prof. Xu Zhi Hong of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) who was speaking during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the operationalisation of the Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre (SAJOREC), June 11, 2017.
“It is our responsibility as scholars and researchers to provide guidance on the protection of our biodiversity, especially with the fluctuating weather patterns facing the globe,” said the professor of life sciences.
Prof. Hong while lauding the collaboration between JKUAT and CAS, said it is important for the two parties to foster more collaboration, such as the modernisation of agriculture in order to increase agricultural yields hence alleviating food insecurity.
Prof Wang Qing-Feng of Wuhan Botanical Garden at Chinese Academy of Sciences said he was glad that his dream of 6 years ago had come to fruition and was confident that the MOU signed would strengthen the collaboration between the two institutions.
“For the sustainability and conservation of biodiversity in the region, the centre should be a training hub for biodiversity researchers not only in Kenya and China but also the African continent at large,” uttered Prof. Wang
Prof. Wang informed the congregation that CAS will continue to support JKUAT through scholarships and staff training and also provide the centre with experts in the maintenance of the botanical garden.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, thanked the CAS team for the commitment they have shown this far and encouraged the SAJOREC team to venture into bamboo and foxtail millet farming.
“The garden is taking shape, the roses are looking beautiful and the trees that were transplanted from China are a marvel,” said Prof. Imbuga while acknowledging that as an institution, JKUAT, has learnt a lot from the collaboration.
On the various indigenous plants and trees gotten from every County in Kenya for conservation, Prof. Imbuga said “when you venture into the botanical garden you can have a feel of the whole of Kenya.”
She also urged the parties to explore other areas of collaboration such as the blue economy to significantly reduce environmental risks and ecological insufficiencies.
The MOU signing ceremony was also addressed by the Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research, Production and Extension), Prof. Romanus Odhiambo, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance), Prof. Bernard Moirongo, Director SAJOREC, Prof. Robert Gituru and was attended by a team from CAS and various Directors of JKUAT Campuses and Dean of Schools.
JKUAT’s multimillion shillings Botanical Garden and SAJOREC, is the only one of its kind in Africa, located on a 40 acre piece of land with an approximate floor area of 4300m square. The botanical garden is based on 7 thematic gardens, among them; an African garden, medicinal garden, orchard garden and an Asian exotic garden. The aim of these gardens is to create a wholesome recreation center for the communities around JKUAT and Kenya.