Precision Agriculture Bear Fruits in Quest for Sustainable Future

Prof. Wesonga (left) showcases some of the seedlings propagated by a JKUAT Alumni at a demo farm in Thika

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is leading the conversation and shaping the future of agriculture sector by using innovative techniques to maximize yield production through utilization of limited resources and locally available material.

The Patron of Horticulture Students Association (HOSA), Prof. John Mwibanda Wesonga , says, “No land! Little water! No problem! You can still strike it rich from your balcony or the wall of your house through innovative agricultural practices.”

Through HOSA, Prof. Wesonga and his students are taking the lead in addressing societal challenges including youth unemployment, climate change, food and nutrition insecurity by nurturing innovative ideas by encouraging application of practical skills.

According to Prof. Wesonga who is also a Lecturer in the Department of Horticulture and Food Security at JKUAT, HOSA provides the students with an opportunity to engage in practical agricultural activities. The association has a facility dedicated to students’ practical learning and innovation.

“They also experiment with various innovations for agricultural production. The site is equipped with open field drip irrigation and polytunnels. The students mainly engage in vegetable production and seedling production,” he adds.

Some innovations available for students learning and practice include: capillary wick irrigation, self wicking beds, wall gardening, bottom watering, pyramid gardens among others. Through such innovations a technique of producing sweet potato seedlings was developed.

JKUAT Alumni, Samuel Mburu (right) explains how he grows micro greens at his home in Kenyatta Road, Juja

As the world confronts the effects of climate change such as dwindling rainfall, Prof. Wesonga believes that similar technique for producing seedlings for cassava, yams and nappier grass will help struggling farmers cater for their animals.

HOSA has nurtured young entrepreneurs, including the founders of JK Smart Farm and Zion Green. JK Smart Farm, owned by a JKUAT Alumni, provides horticultural seedlings and technical support for urban gardening.

Zion Green offers seedling production, garden setup support, greenhouse and irrigation services. Other successful businesses from HOSA graduates include: Thuku Farm Services, Urban Smart Gardeners, KKMG Agriprenuers SACCO, and The Son Green Empire.

The Association hosted a group of researchers from Nigeria and Germany on Thursday, February 9, 2023 who visited the University to interact with their innovations while also showcasing their work in urban farming and their efforts to empower graduates to participate in the field.

Prof. Wesonga (right) demonstrates how capillary wick technique is used to grow vegetables on buckets

The researchers met  HOSA alumni to witness first-hand how the Association has impacted their careers and the activities they are now engaged in.

 The aim of the visit was to provide an in-depth understanding of HOSA’s initiatives and its role in promoting urban agriculture.

A separate group of researchers from Association of Irrigation Acceleration Platform (AIAP), led by their Chairperson, Prof. Bancy Mati also paid a courtesy call on HOSA on Friday, February, 10, 2023 on a bench marking mission while also exploring possible areas of collaboration.

Eng. Rolf Morgernstern, from South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences, Germany, was impressed by the extensive research the University has conducted.

Having visited many universities in Kenya, Eng. Rolf urged the universities to embrace research collaborations in order to maximize the full potential of research impact

Prof. Wesonga (left) with the AIAP team at the HOSA strawberry   greenhouse

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He lauded Prof. Wesonga for having an innovative mindset, going out of his way to mentor and train students.

On her part, Prof. Mati stated that her organization was open to partnering with HOSA on various projects.

“We should think of ways of how we can mobilize your talents to have a national outreach through collaboration and build a knowledge base supported by our own government,” said Prof. Mati.

Prof. Mati also appreciated Prof. Wesonga saying his contribution to agriculture is a contribution to humanity and directly impacts human lives.

Fabian Kaburu, a Research Scientist at Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organization was also present during the HOSA visit.

Mr. Kaburu, a JKUAT alumni, lauded HOSA for indulging in research which will directly impact lives at the grassroots and solve societal problems.

JKUAT Alumni, Joseph Kinyua (maroon t-shirt) and his team busy at work setting up a farm for a client

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