The new office and conference hall facility. Photo: ICRISAT.

Strengthening AR4D partnerships in Kenya with new research infrastructure

The new office and conference hall facility. Photo: ICRISAT.

The new office and conference hall facility. Photo: ICRISAT.

To enhance research infrastructure for ICRISAT and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), ICRISAT handed over newly constructed offices and a conference hall building to KALRO in December 2021. The facilities situated in KALRO’s Agricultural Mechanization Research Institute (AMRI) station in Kiboko, Kenya will be jointly used by both KALRO and ICRISAT staff as well as other collaborators.

The development of the facilities was initiated through a joint collaboration between ICRISAT and KALRO-AMRI. Partnerships are central to ICRISAT’s approach towards tackling challenges facing drylands. KALRO and ICRISAT have been undertaking collaborative research and capacity building in various fields within KALRO centers, including AMRI-Kiboko, Alupe and other centers in Kenya.

Speaking on behalf of Dr Eliud Kireger, KALRO’s Director General, Dr Felister Makini, KALRO’s Deputy Director for Crops, pointed out that the facilities which consist of five offices and a conference hall will go a long way in enhancing research infrastructure. She added that the partnership between ICRISAT and KALRO through research on drought tolerant crops (sorghum, pigeon pea, groundnut, chickpea and millets) has led to immense achievements, which include provision of research infrastructure, bilateral research in various fields and sharing and exchange of germplasm and breeding lines, joint evaluation of trials and nurseries by KALRO and ICRISAT scientists and utilization of the ICRISAT molecular lab by KALRO scientists and scholars.

The facilities being inaugurated by Dr Makini (left) and Dr Harawa (right)

The facilities being inaugurated by Dr Makini (left) and Dr Harawa (right)

Dr Makini added that partnership in bilateral projects such as Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancements (HOPE), Feed the Future Accelerated Value Chain Development (FtF-AVCD), Strengthening Sorghum and Millet Value Chains for Food, Nutritional and Income Security in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SOMNI) and Tropical legumes I and II have led to the development of high-yielding sorghum, millet and pigeon pea varieties and capacity building of several scientists to Masters and PhD level.

Dr Rebbie Harawa, ICRISAT’s ESA Regional Director, assured KALRO that future collaborative research activities between the organization and ICRISAT will continue focusing on bilateral research in various fields, sharing and exchange of germplasm and breeding lines, infrastructural improvement and training at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She noted that through this collaboration, 13 varieties comprising of sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, and pigeon pea have been released between 1988 and 2016. “If one goes into the farms, one will find a lot of these varieties. These are not only varieties that have been released, but varieties that are in homes helping meet food and nutrition needs and have become income generators. Indeed, this is not just about science of discovery but also science of delivery and impact,” remarked Dr Harawa.

She added that ICRISAT has also contributed to more infrastructure such as construction of a 2.7km electric fence at KALRO Kiboko station, installation of a ground mounted transformer that supplies electricity to the two institutions and other beneficiaries, and solar power installation that serves ICRISAT and KALRO, among others.

Dr Harawa emphasized the continued collaboration with KALRO in modernizing the Kiboko research station to a center of excellence where people, especially the young generation, can learn about crop breeding and all the science that is taking place.She added that there is a need to go beyond variety release and consider business incubation or agribusiness for a more sustainable research.

“I am grateful to KALRO for their support in the implementation of Tropical Legumes Projects for which ICRISAT was awarded the Africa Food Prize in 2021. As we celebrate 50 years in March 2022, we recognize our national partners like KALRO; we couldn’t have come this far without their support,” she added.

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