Across the globe, collaborative research has proven to be an effective method for research breakthrough and development of novel innovations that are beneficial to society.
Borrowing a leaf from other collaborative research initiatives, Dr. Erick Ronoh of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department, JKUAT, sought collaboration with his fellow colleagues from Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), under the Climate change research Alumni and Postdocs in Africa (climapAfrica) programme supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Dr. Ronoh, in collaboration with Prof. Edison Muzenda and Prof. Aoyi Ochieng of BIUST, is researching on the techno-economic analysis of a solar-biomass hybrid dryer for drying orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSPs) for enhanced food and nutrition security.
The dryer, considered cheap to run and environmentally friendly, has a biofuel heater to supplement the solar energy for optimal use; and reduces post-harvest losses and optimizes food processing.
Dr. Ronoh, a DAAD alumni, says, this was informed by the pressing challenges of climate change and weather variability.
“I believe the focus on climate-smart functional crops such as the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and energy-efficient food processing technologies can power Africa in the face of climate change effects,” said Dr. Ronoh.
The DAAD climapAfrica programme funds postdoctoral research projects and offers a platform for collaboration in thematic working groups composed of postdoctoral fellows and African alumni of German funding initiatives with expertise in the field of climate research.
According to Dr. Ronoh, the working groups serve as a platform to connect with peers, regional and international experts and practitioners and build a growing professional network across Africa.
“The fellowship programme will enrich my future research studies in climate-smart rural food processing technologies, utilizing renewable energy for sustainable development. I also consider the fellowship as a great opportunity to get in touch with future leaders, various stakeholders, collaborators and advisors/mentors worldwide”, attests Dr. Ronoh.
To solidify the collaboration, the two institutions are in the process of developing a Memorandum of Understanding in a bid to expand and promote exchange of students and staff, development of collaborative research projects, exchange of academic publications and information, development of joint educational programmes, among other mutual activities.
Chair, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Dr. Stephen Ondimu says the MoU intends to establish a framework for strengthening cordial relationship and cooperation between JKUAT and BIUST for long-term mutual benefits.