Ethiopian University Explores Collaboration with JKUAT

Dr Sylvester Anami (right) discusses the Enset plant to the visitors led by Prof Jackson Kwanza

The Institute of Biotechnology Research (IBR) at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has been identified by Arba Minch University (AMU, Ethiopia) as a potential collaborator in advancing their banana research efforts, given IBR’s distinguished reputation in banana tissue culture.

This was part of the discussion during a courtesy call paid by AMU’s Deputy Vice President for Research and Industrial Linkage Prof. Behailu Merdekios on his counterpart Prof. Jackson Kwanza the Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, Production and Extension (RPE) on April 25, 2024.

Prof. Behailu was also visiting IBR for an ongoing donor-funded project on Enset where AMU is partnering with JKUAT, Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI) and Alabaster International (USA).

Enset is a multipurpose and climate-resilient plant related to the banana that can grow in any agroecological zone (whether swampy or dry or in-between) and is beneficial to humans, animals and the industry due to its numerous uses.

Prof. Kwanza welcomed the initiative to collaborate with AMU and commended the existing partnership on the Enset project which commenced in November 2023 with the premise of boosting food security in Kenya. The project is led by IBR’s Principal Investigators Dr. Sylvester Anami and Dr. Grace Mungai.

“JKUAT values collaborations which are facilitated by the Directorate of Linkages. This investment in research has resulted in high webometric ranking placing JKUAT second nationally,” said Prof. Kwanza.

Prof. Behailu expressed the desire for AMU to collaborate with JKUAT on different disciplines aside from Biotechnology, noting that the two institutions were very similar in terms of student numbers and administrative collegiate set-up.

Prof. Behailu Merdekios together with Enset Project Principal Investigators Dr Sylvester Anami (centre) and Dr Grace Mungai at the IBR Greenhouse for Wild Enset

He further explained that AMU was keen on establishing a Banana Research Institute inspired by the success of the IBR and this proposed symbiotic collaboration on banana research would greatly benefit the two institutions which are established pioneer researchers for either plant.

The establishment of the Banana Research Institute at AMU would complement the Enset project by supplementing the potassium deficiency inherent in Enset, as banana powder is a potent source of this essential nutrient.

Prof. Kwanza also underscored the importance of extending the project’s reach to the community to maximize its impact, aligning with the current trend in research and its dissemination through publications.

This emphasis echoed sentiments expressed earlier by Prof. Behailu during his presentation at the IBR Bioinformatics Laboratory, where postgraduate students engaged in discussions on Enset and related topics.

Prof. Behailu stressed that publications should not be viewed as the final outcome but rather as a means to further the application of research within the community.

The fruitful meeting was also attended by Prof. Justus Onguso Director IBR and Dr. Patrick Mbindyo Registrar RPE.

Prof. Behailu Merdekios (second from right) together with  IBR researchers at the Greenhouse for cultivated Enset

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