WRITTEN BY: Olivia Rogers (Ogrogers@ncsu.edu)
NC State is gearing up for the “Building Partnerships for Health and Sustainable Agricultural Development in East Africa” symposium that will take place September 18-20. This event is the first of its kind, and it will connect experts from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda with researchers at NC State. This conference will allow international professionals to exchange ideas with NC State researchers, visit university facilities and identify potential areas of collaboration.
The symposium builds on the Connecting Research, Education and Outreach (CREdO) framework that aims to bridge gaps between research, education and outreach in agriculture and thus create sustainable solutions in agricultural sectors. There are currently three ongoing projects in Kenya under the CREdO umbrella where researchers from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Kenya Fisheries and Marine Research Institute (KMFRI), the University of Nairobi and NC State have come together. However, the idea for these projects was conceived a few years back when researchers from all these institutions started meeting regularly and exchanging ideas, primarily virtually, to identify specific issues with aquaculture and African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) value chains that hinder their productivity in Kenya. A group of more than 20 researchers have diligently worked on creating two master project proposals for aquaculture and AIV value chains. In October 2022 Dr. Peter Ojiambo, professor of plant pathology, and José Cisneros, Director of CALS International Programs, visited Nairobi, Kisii and Kakamega counties in Kenya to meet with project partners and farmers. This trip helped NC State and Kenyan institutions identify potential project sites and meet with local government representatives for the AIV and aquaculture projects.
Michael Joseph, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science at NC State, says this is the first time many of the project partners will meet each other in person. Joseph is part of the aquaculture team, and his role in CREdO is to work with experts from NC State and partner institutions in Kenya to help improve aquaculture productivity. Joseph believes this symposium will help “experts from NC State and Kenyan institutions achieve the various goals of the project and put a plan in place for the successful continuation of the activities by the target communities beyond the life of the projects.”
Kenyan and NC State experts will address various pertinent topics through presentations and group discussions. Mumina Shibia is the Director, Planning Performance Management and Quality Control at KALRO. She will present “Status of AIV value chain: CREdO framework implementation and projects.” According to Shibia, this upcoming symposium is a way “to share experiences and areas of interest with NCSU faculty, funding agencies and the private sector actors interested in agricultural commodity value chains.”
This upcoming symposium will help widen the platform for collaboration among NC State and Kenyan partner institutions. Researchers at both NC State and partner institutions will combine their expertise to forge a way forward for addressing systemic issues that hinder agricultural development in rural Kenya.