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Kenya to host major agricultural research summit

By Nicholas Waitathu
Monday, October 19th, 2020
Locust invasion. Photo/File
In summary

Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) is set to host a major conference on mitigating the impact of natural disasters in the country's agriculture and food system.

Top local and international agricultural researchers are expected to grace the conference slated for October 21 and 22.

Participation in the conference dubbed “The Second-High Panel Conference on Agricultural Research in Kenya,” will be a hybrid of virtual and physical. 

Speaking during a media event at Kilimo house, the Director for Research and Innovation Oscar Magenya said the conference will discuss interlinkages between Covid-19, other zoonotic attacks and locust invasion in the country.  

They will also discuss disasters associated with climate change in addition to seeking clarity on the potential inherent in agricultural research to address the challenges imposed by emergencies such as pandemics.

Magenya who spoke on behalf of Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said the forum seeks to bring together leading personalities drawn from key sectors that influence agricultural research and is modeled to inspire discussions on demand-driven agriculture research.  

“The conference seeks to identify trends, opportunities and solutions for challenges in research of agricultural development in changing climatic regimes and to recognise and promote scientists whose findings and innovations have major impacts on society,” said Dr Magenya.

It also seek to inspire people to close gaps in agricultural research in order to increase agricultural productivity, reduce food losses and increase value of agricultural produce, he added.

The meeting will further emphasise the centrality of agricultural research in the country’s development agenda, including the positioning of research as a core element of the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS).

It will also highlight the importance of strengthening local innovation capacity for solutions such as the production or synthesis of reagents, ventilators, use of biofoundries, in view of the difficulties faced by the international supply chain failure during emergencies such as Covid-19.

This is the second conferenceThe conference being hosted  hosted by Kalro, in collaboration with partner organisations working in agriculture research, relevant government agencies and other stakeholders, is the second of its kind to be held in Nairobi after the first one in September 2018. 

The first conference facilitated strengthening of the fraternal bond among the agricultural scientists and other sector players in the country and validated the national agricultural research agenda which has been adopted by the Kenya National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI).

In relation to this research agenda, a review of the national agriculture research policy is at advanced stages to make it more responsive to prevailing context in the national agriculture research system, he added.

Promoting research with a view to boosting food security is highlighted in the 10-year ASTGS. 

Flagship eight of the strategy seeks to strengthen research and innovation and launch priority digital and data use cases to drive better decision-making and performance management.

“Key activities to achieve this would include among others the creation of an enabling environment for research and innovation, with clear linkages between data, research and innovation,” Magenya explained.

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