The Government has formulated the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) with a view to transform Kenya’s agricultural sector and make it a regional powerhouse.
The strategy, according to the Director in charge of Knowledge Management, Technology Transfer and Capacity Building, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr. Margaret Makelo, is anchored on the belief that, “food security requires a vibrant, commercial and modern agricultural sector that sustainably supports Kenya’s economic development and commitments to the Big Four presidential agenda, the Malabo Commitments to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
The Director who was the Chief Guest, represented the Principal Secretary, State Department of Agriculture Research, Prof. Hamadi Boga, during the official opening of the 13th JKUAT Scientific, Technological and Industrialization Conference and Exhibition, at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Thursday, November 15, 2018.
Dr. Makelo noted that the significance of the agriculture sector to the country’s socio-economic development has been emphasized through Kenya Vision 2030 and the Medium Term Plan III and the Big Four priority Agenda for 2017-2022 which emphasizes the importance of 100% food security for all Kenyans.
“The three anchors to drive the 10 – year ASTGS are; increase small scale farmer, pastoralist and fisher-folk incomes; increase agricultural output and value add; as well as increase household food resilience, Dr. Makelo outlined.
To further drive the ASTGS, Dr. Makelo said, the Government has identified the relevant enablers; Strengthening research and innovation as launch priority; digital and data use cases to better drive decision making and performance management; actively monitor and rapidly respond to food system risks that include NRM, Disease and pests and global price shocks.
She noted that the conference, which has attracted various key stakeholders, should bring out the missing links that will inform the conference why more resources are required for R&D and consequently, commercialization.
She further observed that managing Kenya’s natural resources is at the heart of the country’s ability to respond to looming food system risks, including climate change and disaster management.
Addressing these challenges, Dr. Makelo noted, “will not only sustainably increase agricultural production and put food on the table today, but it will also ensure that future generations of Kenyans can continue to benefit from agriculture.”
The National Food and Nutrition Policy 2011, the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy 2016-2017 and implementation framework 2017-2018, and proposed ASTGS should therefore guide the sub-themes; Agricultural sciences and technologies for sustainable food and nutrition technology, water, energy, environment and climate management.
The Chief Guest urged the participants to ensure the conference “contributes to evidence based foundations that require data for rigorous performance management, as well as the research and innovation to propel decision making and technologies now and beyond and therefore information communication technology and open data platforms for development will form the centerpiece of the knowledge generated.”
Vice Chancellor, Prof Victoria Ngumi, informed the participants that “the business world is increasingly shifting attention to demand-driven and cost-effective innovations as a means of maintaining their competitive edge,” and urged researchers and innovators to “focus on providing outputs that will readily be embraced by business and corporate players in various sectors.
“It was with this in mind that we settled on: “Commercialization of Research outputs and Innovations for Sustainable Development” theme for this year’s conference, stated Prof. Ngumi, who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance), Prof. Otoki Moirongo.
Prof. Ngumi reminded researchers “to engage in productive research whose outputs can be tapped to the country’s development aspirations at national, regional and global levels. In this regard, “JKUAT is currently re-positioning as a research and entrepreneurial university; a move that is aimed at taking our research and innovation outputs to the marketplace.” Prof. Ngumi lauded the Japan International Co-operation Agency for supporting the conference.
The two-day conference features over 73 paper presentations spread across 7 sub-thematic areas, which the Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Mary Abukutsa noted, are aligned to the university’s training and research areas, adding, the conference is seeking ways of commercializing the various technologies and innovations and ensure they get to the market. Those who made presentations include; Prof. Nick Wanjohi, and Dr. John Kinyuru, Chairman of the Conference Organizing Committee, Prof. Abiero Gariy, also addressed the conference.