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November 1, 2023  China Daily   

Transforming Agriculture in Kenya: Nanjing Agricultural University's Impact and Collaboration

Case Study;Value Chain Development for Smallholders;Crops output;Kenya

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Workers select groundnut seeds at the agro-science park of Egerton University in Nakuru County, Kenya, on Sept 18. The China-Kenya Joint Laboratory for Crop Molecular Biology at the university has developed high-yield varieties of beans, groundnuts, cassava, millet and sorghum. XIE SONGXIN/CHINA DAILY

Liu Gaoqiong, a professor at Nanjing Agricultural University who moved to Kenya in 1997 through the China-Kenya High Education Cooperation Project exchange program, said that since the laboratory was established it has hosted several short virtual training sessions in conjunction with Nanjing Agricultural University, and the laboratory's capabilities have steadily improved, with staff members and students benefiting from collaboration with international molecular biology and biotechnology experts.

Since the laboratory was established, six PhD and 13 master's students have graduated after completing their research. Eight PhD students and 16 master's students are now in session. Through the research by these students the university has developed numerous varieties of crops that have been passed on to local farmers to help tackle problems such as drought, diseases and low yields.

The Chelalang bean variety that Wanjiku plants on her farm is a product of the joint laboratory. For the joint laboratory research products to reach farmers such as her, Nanjing Agricultural University and Egerton University established an agro-science park whose mandate is to promote innovation and products and services developed in the molecular laboratory so they can be commercialized and to ensure that farmers can use the products.

Through the park, high yielding varieties of beans, groundnuts, cassava, millet, sorghum and bacterial wilt-resistant tomatoes have been distributed to farmers across Kenya to improve their output.

During a visit in September, Chen Fadi, president of Nanjing Agricultural University, awarded completion certificates to the trainees in the tomato production and protected horticulture program.

Maurice Omondi, an agricultural officer with Nakuru County, was one of the trainees who received certification.

The establishment of the demonstration village will go a long way in passing on technological knowledge on tomato grafting to farmers, who intend to use the village as a field classroom for farmers from across the county, he said.

(Original Title: Farmers Reap Fruits of BRI Collaboration)

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