Harness Agricultural Research for Food Security

Mr. Robert (center) interacts with a student’s chia seeds value addition product during the expo

Speakers at the just concluded JKUAT Food Industry, Nutrition and Career and Research Expo 2.0 (J-FINCRE 2.0) have called for funding and integration of homogenous researches in Agriculture in a bid to improve Agricultural practices in Kenya.

The expo themed ‘Sustainable Industrial Development and a Secure Future of Food in Kenya’ organized by the Society of Food Technologists and Nutritionists (SOFTAN), Friday March 29, 2019, was aimed at reinforcing links with university and industry.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Programme Coordinator, Mr. Allport Robert said the agricultural research being undertaken by the various research institutes in Kenya were being shelved rather than being harnessed to aid the farmers to tackle their problems and improve agricultural productivity.

“If all data collected by different institutions in the country could be pulled together and made available to farmers, we would have a capacity for agricultural transformation that would be world class,” asserted Mr. Robert.

He recognized Kenya as a centre of excellence as it was a country where most research in agriculture was being carried out within the East African region, underscoring the importance of leveraging on technology in the dissemination of agricultural information and solutions.

Students have a feel of the food science products being exhibited.

“Big data and Mobile Apps, agriculture’s fourth revolution provide platforms that pull agricultural information into one place and ensuring valuable information available is easily accessible to the public,” said Mr. Robert.

While acknowledging the incorporation of research outputs in agricultural activities, Mr. Robert also indicated that proper planning was paramount if Kenya was to achieve food security and address malnutrition.

“Food prices are also a major hindrance in the accessibility of nutritious sustenance. I therefore urge the government to revise food prices as there is a huge correlation of food prices and malnutrition,” said the FAO Programme Coordinator.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi informed the congregation that JKUAT was implementing the Kenya National Food Fortification Programme in partnership with the Ministry of Health and other partners to address gaps in food fortification in Kenya.

The project focuses on strengthening the capacity of cereal millers to deliver micro nutrient rich staple foods to target populations particularly women, girls and children who were the most vulnerable to malnutrition.

Prof. Sila addresses the congregation

“As a University we remain committed to finding sustainable solutions to many of the challenges facing the country including supporting the implementation of the Food and Nutrition Security pillar of the Government’s Big Four Agenda”, said Prof. Ngumi in a speech delivered on her behalf by Dean, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences (SOFNUS), Prof Daniel Sila.

Africa-ai-Japan Project, Chief Advisor, Prof. Hiroshi Koaze, lauded the link between JICA and JKUAT that has driven agricultural research in various agronomical fields saying “exchange of information between academia and industry is vital in spurring institutional and industrial growth.”

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