An agricultural research symposium themed, Transforming Agriculture through Research and Innovation kicked off yesterday in Nairobi bringing together researchers from Australia and several African countries including Kenya, Cameroon, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Botswana, Uganda, Ghana and Zimbabwe. All in a collaborative effort to find sustainable agricultural solutions to problems facing Africa.
“It is imperative to reflect on and reaffirm our commitment to accelerating investment in an agricultural revolution that allows development of innovative technologies and practices in Africa through research, this will in turn guarantee, security, nutrition and poverty reduction in a sustainable manner,” said Alison Chartres Australian High Commissioner to Kenya.
In his speech, Agriculture and Research Principal Secretary Professor Hamadi Boga, reiterated the importance of agriculture in urging researchers to focus on areas within the big four agenda for better collaboration with the government. “Three of these areas namely Food Security, Manufacturing, affordable healthcare depend on agriculture directly or indirectly.”
“Agriculture contributes 32 percent of Kenya’s GDP, with about five million smallholder farmers. 70 percent of our population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods, thus this data is important for planning and policy formation in government; researchers should contribute to improving its quality,” said Professor Hamadi Boga.
The two-day symposium will involve an innovation challenge where participants will be divided into teams and work together to scope and design actionable projects while incorporating private sector input. The winning team will walk away with 10,000 Australian Dollars (sh777, 600) to actualize a cross-country research project courtesy of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The initiative is a collaboration of Australia Awards (offering scholarships, short courses and fellowships), Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN), University of Nairobi and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
This partnership has existed for a while and has supported the establishment of a research development fund for collaborative research between universities from Kenya and Australia, marshaling expertise to strengthen researchers’ capacity and provide funding to address agricultural challenges.