JICA Collaboration on Soil Research to Boost Agriculture

JKUAT Management led by Vice Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui (fourth from right) receive Jica delegation in the University

Scarcity of soil scientists in Kenya is now considered a serious threat to the country’s sustainable food security, given that soil is the foundation that supports all agricultural activities. It is therefore imperative for players, including universities and research institutions to provide holistic solutions in order to improve the productivity of our farming systems. Soil science can aid in climate change adaptation by helping farmers choose suitable crops and cultivation techniques that are more resilient to these changing conditions.

This was part of the discussions led by JKUAT Vice Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi while receiving Dr. Rintaro Kinoshita, Expert to AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project for Industrial Science Technology Innovation Linkage (STI) and Agriculture and Mr. Michitaka Nakata a volunteer in Soil and Fertilizers who will be part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at JKUAT for the next two years.

Dr. Kinoshita, an Agronomy expert who is also conducting potato farming research in Kiambu and Nyandarua counties, will be instrumental in supporting AFRICA-ai-JAPAN project, now in its second phase.

The project’s focus is on supporting educational and research institutions of STI in developing human resources in Africa that can provide practical solutions to society through collaboration with communities, industry, and higher education institutions.

On the other hand, Mr. Nakata, whose background is Soil Chemistry will be lending his experience to the soil laboratory at the Department of Horticulture and Food Security (HFS) as well as the JKUAT Farm.

Prof. Ngumi encouraged the two Japanese scientists, to engage in domestic tourism and experience the country’s varying climates stretching from the Rift Valley to the Coast, that support different agricultural activities and ecosystems including the national parks.

“Ï am delighted to welcome you to JKUAT because we take immense pride in our longstanding and robust ties with Japan and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). We value your interactions, especially with our students whom we highly regard and I believe your presence at JKUAT will richly contribute to their academic and research endeavors”, said Prof. Ngumi.

Prof. Ngumi also stated that JKUAT is active in Extension services and has demonstrated modern farming techniques to farmers through the Kitale farm as part of its community outreach. She believes that knowledge transfer is critical to JKUAT’s goals of playing an effective role in the development of agriculture and technology in collaboration with industry, as well as providing extension services to contribute to Kenya’s social and economic development.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua, and his Administration and Finance counterpart Prof. Bernard Ikua also welcomed the Japanese professionals, noting that they were eager to collaborate, and benefit the farmers through JKUAT campuses for more impact.

According to AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Chief Advisor, Prof. Koaze, the project aims to improve collaborations with industry and potentially foster more fruitful global partnerships.

Dr. Kinoshita, has previously conducted research in Western Kenya. He believes that Soil science research in Kenya can lead to innovations in sustainable agriculture, including the development of drought-resistant crop varieties, efficient irrigation techniques, and soil health management practices tailored to local conditions.

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