KARI hosts parliamentarians' seminar on the role of agricultural research in poverty reduction and economic development in Kenya

15 June 2001

KARI hosts parliamentarians` seminar on the role of agricultural research in poverty reduction and economic development in Kenya – 15 June 2001:

Opening speech by Hon Dr Godana Bonaya, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development

In an effort to sensitise Kenyan parliamentarians on its contribution towards reducing poverty and generally improving the livelihoods of Kenyans, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, KARI, organised a one-day workshop at the Institute's headquarters on Kaptagat Road, Loresho on 15 June 2001. The seminar, which was the first of its kind to be organised by a local research institute, was attended by several members of Parliament and was chaired by non other than the Minister for Agriculture , Hon Dr Bonaya Godana. Papers were presented by among others, the chairman of the KARI Board of Management, Professor Ratemo Michieka, the Director KARI, Dr Romano Kiome and Director Generals of renowned international research centres. The opening speech was delivered by the Minister, and is reproduced here verbatim.

Hon. Members of Parliament
Director Generals of International Research Centres
Chairman and Director of KARI
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am indeed pleased that one of my first engagements outside my office as Minister for Agriculture is in connection with the promotion of information sharing in agricultural research and poverty reduction in Kenya. As you all know, agriculture is the backbone of this country's economy, and many of us stake a claim on agricultural products of one form or another. Thus, although I am relatively new in the Ministry of Agriculture, my interest in and familiarity with agricultural issues are as strong as those of any other national stakeholder.

Before I address issues of agricultural research, poverty reduction and economic development, I would like us to briefly visit the economic atmosphere in which Kenyan researchers have been working, and will probably continue to work for years to come. This will help to contextualise both my remarks and the presentations that will follow.

Kenya is faced with a situation of having to reverse a trend of an economic growth rate that has declined dramatically from an average of 6.6% in the 1970s to 4.2% in the 1980s, and to an average 2.1% in the 1990s.

The decline is a sum total of a decline in all major sectors of Kenya’s economy but more so the agricultural sector whose share of GDP fell from 35 to 28% between the 1970s and the 1990s. Growth has weakened for the major crops, except horticulture. The Government is convinced that for this downward spiral of growth and development to be reversed, a growth rate of at least 6% per year must be sustained for over a decade. This implies that we put our investment emphasis in priority sectors of our economy, and agriculture tops the priority list. As you might be aware agriculture remains the main source of income and employment for 80% of the population, especially in the rural areas. In addition, it accounts for 60% of the total export earnings, 45% of the government revenue and 75% of industrial raw materials. Unfortunately, growth of the agricultural sector has declined from 4.6% per year in the first decade after independence to less than 1% in the 1990s. Many indicators of the rural livelihood show a decline over the same period, especially for the majority of the population living in the rural areas who depend on subsistence farming. The population pressurecombined with the increasing poverty have continued to exert pressure on the natural resource base in the rural areas, leading to depletion of soil fertility, water catchment areas, forests, and to overall land degradation.

As we look for solutions to what seems to be a series of endless problems, let us bear in mind that these problems are not unique to Kenya, and indeed technologies and initiatives already exist in other parts of the world that we can borrow from through collaboration. In this connection, I am pleased to note that presentations at this workshop will be made by directors of KARI’s key collaborating institutions, who are themselves eminent scientists in their own right. The institutions they head continue to be associated with major breakthroughs that have made a real difference in the livelihoods of humankind here in Kenya and in many other parts of the world. It is indeed gratifying that we shall be hearing some of these great achievements from the horses’ own mouths today.

I am aware that the agricultural research sub-sector deserves a much greater allocation of my ministry’s budget than it has received, and I will do everything within my powers to see that research gets its rightful share of the budget. However, I repeat here that our economy is still weak, and my ministry is unlikely to satisfy fully all the requirements of researchers, even if I tried very hard. Thus, for sustained execution of relevant research and technology transfer, we must think seriously about establishing viable funding initiatives. This brings into stark focus issues such as proactively seeking collaboration with the Private Sector, carrying out contract research, utilising the intellectual property and breeders' rights to the advantage of research and utilising the large tracts of land under KARI for commercial production of agricultural produce. KARI should borrow some lessons from our universities, which have made some strides in the direction of generating alternative funds for both training and research. I learn that KARI has signed Memoranda of Understanding with various State Universities including Jomo Kenyatta University, whose Vice-Chancellor is also the Chairman of KARI’s Board of Management, and is here with us. Such arrangements should be used to advantage by both institutions, to maximise output from the limited resources available.

Tangible contribution by agricultural research to poverty reduction and economic development will be realised only if improved technologies are available. Fortunately, and thanks to KARI's research efforts, such technologies do exist for most of the agricultural land in Kenya, including the vast arid and semi-arid areas. Examples of crop and livestock breeds developed by KARI, as well as management strategies that maximise their production in various Kenyan eco-zones are legion. However, improved technologies, are worthless if they are not adopted.

At this point, I would like to elaborate on this important, but all too often ignored, aspect. I believe strongly that for all practical purposes, improved technology exists if and only if farmers are aware of it, otherwise it does not exist and should not be referred to as improved technology. I would like to stretch this belief further, and say that the technology should not in fact be referred to as improved technology unless farmers are able to adopt it and obtain higher incomes than would result from the use of conventional practices. It is a truism that higher yields under experimental conditions do not suffice for me to consider that research has developed an improved practice. This belief can be stretched even further, by arguing that unless farmers are aware of the practices required to get higher yields and can obtain the required inputs and apply the practice on their farms, with the results that both yields and incomes increase, then it should not be considered that an improved practice or technology exists. This, of course, means that there must be close co-operation between research and policy makers, research and extension personnel, and research and farmers in designing and executing research, and disseminating research findings. The questions listed below must be considered if research is to benefit farmers.

Will the research lead to :

  • higher yields at farm level?
  • How will farmers get the correct kind and amount of inputs on time and will they be able to apply these correctly?
  • Which stakeholders and users will be involved in facilitating adoption of the technology being generated, and what is the role of each?
  • Does the ultimate user have access to markets and if not, is he aware of the various utilisation alternatives of the products?
  • What risks are involved where attempts are made to adopt the technology, and how can the risks or their effects be minimised?
  • How will it be ensured that lessons learned from collaboration with farmers are ploughed back into the research process?

Research is a difficult task, and I commend you for your commitment. KARI has done a lot to better the welfare of farmers in this country, but much more remains to be done. I wish you a most successful workshop. And on this note, it is now my pleasure to declare the workshop on the Role of Agricultural Research in Poverty Reduction and Economic Development in Kenya officially open.

Thank you.

KARI hosts consultative workshop on promotion and development of medicinal and aromatic plants

Peterson Mwangi & Sitawa Ogutu, KARI Hqts

KARI was honoured to host a workshop on the promotion and development of medicinal and aromatic plants, food crops and other natural products for commercial production in Kenya, on Friday 29 June 2001. The preliminary workshop, a major joint effort that brought together stakeholders, aimed at utilising indigenous knowledge (IK) for the betterment of livelihoods and incorporating it in the mainstream of science. It was the culmination of several consultative meetings held since April 2001. Participants included scientists from national and international research institutions, invited guests from government and non-governmental organisations, and practitioners of herbal medicine. Dr Ed Quisumbing, Task Team Leader, NARP II, Rural Development Operations, Eastern and Southern Africa (World Bank). Notable guests in attendance included: Prof. Z Macasieb, the Director, Regional Information Technology Centre and Chief, Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems, Benguet State University, La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines, Dr N Ngerike of South Africa, Dr F Gasengayire of IDRC, and a special guest, a farmer, Mr Moses Mare from Uganda. Also present were two deputy directors from Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) Dr Otim Nape and Mr John Aluma, and two other officers from NARO. The experiences from other countries would benefit participants. The meeting recommended the appointment of an Inter-institutional Taskforce on the promotion of medicinal and aromatic plants, wild food plants and other natural products for commercial exploitation. KARI would chair the Taskforce.

In his opening address, Dr RM Kiome, the Director KARI commended the efforts of the taskforce for brainstorming and planning the workshop and expressed the need to discuss and recognise pertinent issues on intellectual property rights in view of world-wide involvement and the controversial debate on genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). Dr Kiome also recognised the role of indigenous knowledge in herbal medicine as being of paramount importance in the quest for medicinal remedies to combat disease. He noted that the high cost of pharmaceutical products from the west puts modern healthcare services out of the reach of many Kenyans, especially those living in the rural areas. As a result, the demand for medicinal and aromatic plants, wild food crops and other natural products has been growing rapidly as communities struggle to meet their healthcare needs. Dr Kiome appreciated the grant from the World Bank to prepare proposals for activities related to the workshop.

Dr Quisumbing gave a presentation on indigenous knowledge for development, stressing that medicinal and aromatic plants play an important part in the socio-economic development of many countries in the world. He gave an example of Uganda where maternal deaths had declined by as much as 50 per cent in 3 years as a result of the use of medicinal plants by birth attendants. He told participants that the World Bank was willing to financially support any initiative directed towards improving the socio-economic well being of Kenyans.

The intensive one-day workshop addressed the promotion and development of aromatic plants and food crops among other products for commercial production. Dr F Murithi, KARI Assistant Director, Socio-economics, gave an overview and the way forward for the taskforce, noting that the workshop had been organised to solicit the views of participants and identify priority areas that need to be incorporated into the inter-institutional programme. Dr B Chikamai of KEFRI, Mr K Danda of KARI-Mtwapa, Mr J Kang’ara of KARI, RRC-Embu and Mr P Maundu of Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (KENRIC), Kenya National Museums, gave presentations on local experiences, focusing on research and documentation of medicinal, aromatic and food plants in Kenya. They indicated that Kenyan communities had a lot of resources that could be tapped for the good of the country. By working together, the institutions could exploit their comparative advantages for the benefit of the poor in the society. They also noted that medicinal and aromatic plants could be promoted, processed, and marketed both locally and internationally.

Mr P Omari from the Traditional Medicine Development Agency (TRAMEDIA) and Ms. P Opole from the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems and By-Products (CIKSAP) made very lively presentations on the role of NGOs in promoting traditinal medicine. In a brief address, Mr Aruma informed the participants that NARO had held a similar workshop in Uganda only 10 days earlier and assured them that Indigenous Knowledge was giving Ugandans a chance of improving income generation. He advised participants to adopt the two-way approach whereby indigenous knowledge custodians were also given a chance to train trainers.

Professor Z Macasieb, Dr N Ngerike and Dr F Gasengayire made presentations highlighting the international perspective of the approaches and challenges in the conservation and promotion of medicinal, aromatic and food plants for commercial production. Prof. Macasieb emphasised the importance of direct application of indigenous plants in raw form for first aid (purgative/poultice/sterilise/antibiotic) to help poor families. This should be addressed even as efforts towards the domestication and commercialisation of medicinal plants continued. They noted that cultivation of medicinal plants contributed towards meeting conservation and income generation goals, and was important in supporting livelihood for millions of people.

On policy issues, Dr. K Mwangi, a Mombasa herbalist, called for assurance of protection of materials to enable open discussions in this area. This would in turn hasten the process of commercialisation of the medicinal and aromatic plants. In support of the protection of materials, Dr E Sikinyi, Assistant Director, KEPHIS called for the enforcement of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act, 1999 and the accompanying regulations on access and benefit sharing. The participants agreed that the International Property Rights concerning medicinal and aromatic plants need to be emphasised and enforced.

The Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAP) Taskforce composed of Dr JS Wafula (KARI), Dr PA Konuche (KEFRI), Dr GM Rukunga (KEMRI), Prof. JO Midiwo (UoN), Ms W Musila (NMK), Dr JK Githae (SAMTECH), Mr. Nyangeri (NCST), Mr. FG Kariuki (Herbalm) and Dr P Muturi (KIRDI), convened to chart the way forward for the commercial production of natural products in Kenya. The Taskforce was mandated to continue co-ordinating the efforts of the stakeholders and to look into ways of addressing the challenges of identifying, promoting, processing and production of medicinal and aromatic plants, wild food crops and other natural products in Kenya''.

The workshop will draw a wider audience, including representation from the traditional healers, farmers, government ministries, diplomats accredited to Kenya, Non-Governmental Organisations, Universities, World Health Organisation and donors. This workshop will contribute to the objective of the African Union (formerly called the Organisation of Africa Unity - OAU) of a 'Decade for African Traditional Medicine'.

Closing the workshop on behalf of the Taskforce Chairman, Mr. F Kiriro, KARI Assistant Director, Regional Research Centres, called for an enabling environment that supports strategic research, encourages building partnerships among the key stakeholders including donors, and enhances regional and international networking in the area of medicinal and aromatic plants.

KARI supports the Soil Science Society of East Africa

PN Macharia and JG Mureithi, NARL - Kabete

The Soil Science Society of East Africa (SSSEA) was formed in 1975 with the primary objective of promoting the study, research and teaching of soil science and related subjects and application of recent research findings in soil management and conservation in East Africa. The Society, a non-profit making and non-political organisation, draws its membership from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, on an individual and institutional basis. It was registered in 1975 and held its first Annual General Meeting from 18 to 19 December of the same year at the now National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) Muguga, Kenya. Since its inception, the Society has made enormous achievements in bringing together scientists from various disciplines during its annual conferences and meetings where participants make presentations and discuss matters of professional interest. Currently, the Society has about 400 registered individual members and 4 institutional members. So far, the Society has held 18 annual scientific conferences hosted on rotational basis within the three East African countries.
The Society is involved in several activities and the main ones include: -

  • Holding annual meetings during which members present professional papers and discuss matters of professional interest.
  • Promotion of proper conservation, development and utilisation of East African soils and other natural resources.
  • Contribution to policy development on soil management and conservation by resolutions passed during the AGM. These are passed on to the relevant government ministries.

Membership to the Society is open as follows:

  • Ordinary membership - open to those engaged in research, teaching or any other related activity involving soil and other natural resources. Membership fee is US$ 5.
  • Student membership - open to students who are institutions of higher learning upon nomination by an ordinary member. Student members have no right to vote or hold any office or position in the Society. Membership fee is US$ 2.
  • Institutional membership - open to those institutions that prescribe to the objectives of the Society. Membership fee is US$ 500.

Members enjoy some benefits as follows:

  • Participation and presentation of papers during the annual conferences and meetings.
  • Allocation of specific sessions for institutional members to present papers addressing a common theme.
  • Institutions can hold activities under the auspices of the Society so long as those activities are consistent with the Society’s objectives.Subsidised rates for Society proceedings and materials.

KARI has supported SSSEA in a big way since its inception as the following highlights show:

  • The first AGM of the Society was held at KARI- Muguga in 1975. Scientists based there were among the founder members.
  • NARL-Kabete was chosen to house the Society’s Secretariat in Kenya. Past Chairmen of the Society from NARL are Dr FN Muchena, Mr. JN Qureshi and Mr. CM Njihia. The current Chairman, Dr JG Mureithi, is also based at NARL
  • KARI has been offering financial and logistical support to its scientists to attend and present papers during the Society’s annual conferences.
  • In May 2001, KARI formally enrolled as an institutional member of the Society.

During its 17th Conference held in Kampala, Uganda 6-10 September 1999, the Society also held special celebrations to mark its Silver Jubilee (25 years). To grace the occasion, fifteen categories of awards per country were awarded to individuals and institutions that had made a significant contribution to soil science. The category for institutions providing outstanding services for soil and water management in Kenya was awarded to KARI’s Kenya Soil Survey (KSS) and National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL).

During the 18th Conference held on 4-8 December 2000 in Mombasa, the Society also celebrated the end of the 20th Millennium. Awards were given to individuals and institutions that had made outstanding contribution to soil science in the East African region and to the well being of the SSSEA. KARI was recognised for its substantial contribution and training of research scientists. NARL was recognised for providing outstanding services in soil management.

The Director KARI, Dr RM Kiome officially opened the conference. Of the 120 participants from the three East African countries who attended, 96 were from Kenya, out of whom 46 were from KARI. Also in attendance was Dr John Lynam of the Rockefeller Foundation who gave a stimulating keynote address on behalf of the "Friends of the Society." The SSSEA is grateful to the substantive financial support it received from the Rockefeller Foundation to host the conference.

During the conference, about 100 technical papers were presented which were categorised into the following major themes:

  • Land resources inventory, evaluation and monitoring
  • Management of organic and inorganic resources for maintenance of soil fertility
  • Integrated soil fertility management
  • Improving land productivity through tillage, water harvesting, irrigation and drainage technologies
  • Agroforestry.

While recognising the seriousness of the need for sustainable use of land resources to alleviate poverty in the East Africa region, the AGM that was held at the end of the conference also noted that there was still:

  • inadequate utilisation of soil scientists in the region
  • inadequate application of soil and water technologies
  • ineffective soil and water management by-laws
  • need to strengthen existing policies on land management
  • need to recognise the potential of soil scientists in
  • planning and execution of land development programs
  • inadequate transfer of existing land management technologies, particularly to small-holder farmers
  • great heterogeneity of problems/constraints facing farmers in the region
  • need for increased funding for research and dissemination of technologies
  • the urgent need to protect the intellectual property rights of scientists in the region.

The conference resolved that the soil scientists in the region would continue to ensure that they come up with well-tested and economical land management technologies based on integrated and multi-disciplinary approaches, taking into consideration indigenous knowledge. They would also work closely with policy makers, extension workers, NGOs, individual farmers and farmers’ groups and other development groups in their activities to promote dissemination and utilisation of improved land management technologies as well as pursue basic, strategic, applied and adaptive research in a continuum. The Society would establish mechanisms to protect the intellectual property rights for its members.

The 18th conference recommended that the regional governments should: place well-qualified personnel in soil science at regional and district levels; strengthen the soil testing and advisory services and bring them closer to the farmers (at least at the provincial/district level, and in all agricultural universities); assist in availing efficient means of transferring the existing land management technologies to the farmers by strengthening the linkages between policy makers, researchers and extension workers; formulate and put in place a land use policy; review and enforce land use and soil management by-laws; strengthen and support land and soil resource databases including soil surveys; and include soil scientists in decision making, regulatory bodies and in implementing development programs.

Kenyan Officials and Secretariat of the SSSEA

Dr JG Mureithi, KARI – NARLPO Box 14733, Nairobi
Tel: 409035/449810/443376/
440903, Email:

Dr DN Mugendi, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Kenyatta University, PO Box 438444, Nairobi. Tel: 811622, Email:
Mr PN Macharia, KARI – NARLPO Box 14733, Nairobi
Tel: 446989

Committee members
Dr JR Okalebo, Moi Unversity,
Soil Science Department,
PO Box 1125, Eldoret
okalebo@net 2000ke.com

Dr SK Kimani, KARI – Muguga,PO Box 30148, Nairobi,
 Tel: 0154 – 32590, Email:skimani@net2000ke.com

For more information about membership and subscription, please contact the Treasurer.

KARI releases new maize varieties

JAW Ochieng, KARI Hqts

Local maize farmers are set to start reaping the benefits of 6 new maize varieties developed by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KH600-11D and KSTP94), Monsanto (CG4141 and C5051), Oil Crop Development Authority (PAN5355), and Kenya Seed Company (H623), after more than eight years of research. The new varieties are expected to reduce production costs including purchase of pesticides.

The former Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon Chris Obure and officials of the research organisations conducted the launching ceremony at Kilimo House, the Ministry Headquarters on 4 May 2001. In his speech, the minister observed that 60% of maize seed used countrywide was of improved varieties.

Variety KH600-11D was bred at kari's National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC)–Kitale. It is a typical varietal cross Hydrid with white, semi-dent grains. It matures in 7-8 months and is most suitable for highland areas (1800 to 2500 m) such as Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho, Upper Nyeri, Laikipia, Lower Nyandarua, and Upper Kiambu with an annual rainfall of 1000-2000 mm. It can yield up to 7 t/ha. It is highly tolerant to leaf blight and ear rot and is more environmentally stable with very good standability and strong brace roots, has a high ear placement of up to 2 m and is taller than H614D by 20 cm.

Maize is often left in the field well beyond physiological maturity. When harvesting is delayed, rot-causing fungi may invade maize kernels. The recommended planting dates for KH600-11D are March-April during the long rains at 17,600 plants per acre. Fertiliser (60 kg P2O5 per acre) should be applied at planting and 60 kg N applied as topdressing.

The KSTP94 was bred at kari's Regional research Centre (RRC)–Kakamega. It performs well in striga-prone areas and can increase yields horizontally by claiming more land previously subjected to biophysical constraints.

The crop has an added advantage of being an Open Pollinated Variety (opv) and farmers can therefore use farm-saved seed for more than one season. The variety is suitable for altitudes of 1500 to 1800 m (Bungoma, Mumias-Butere, Vihiga, Kakamega, Siaya, Bondo, Rachuonyo, Homa–Bay, Migori and Suba Districts) with 800-1800 mm of rainfall. The yield reduction for KSTP94 by Striga is only 27 % compared to 72% for H622. It matures in 2-3 months and can yield 3.2-4.8 t /ha in Striga-free areas and 1.3-4.2 t /ha in Striga-infested areas. The recommended planting time for the KSTP94 is February-March during the long rains and August-November during the short rains. The recommended seeding rate should be 16 000 plants per acre. The fertiliser recommendation is 30 kg of dap per acre at planting and or 30 kg per acre for topdressing.The multiplication and distribution of KSTP94 has been given to Lagrotech and Western Seed Companies. They will collaborate with Community Based Organisations (CBOs).

Hybrid H623 is suitable for the medium and high altitude areas (Kakamega, Bungoma, Embu, Kiambu, Siaya, Busia, Kisumu, Nakuru, Baringo, West Pokot and Taveta). It matures in 5-6 months.

CG4141 and C5051 will be introduced in marginal coffee-and cotton-growing zones. CG4141 matures in 4-5 months and is suitable for Siaya, Mwea, Loitoktok, Machakos, Meru, Embu, Tharaka-Nithi, Muranga and Thika. Variety C5051 will target warm moist mid altitude areas and takes 4-5 months to mature. It will be introduced in Siaya, Kirinyaga, Loitoktok, Meru, Embu, Keiyo, Muranga, Thika and Kiambu. Variety PAN5355 will be marketed in warm moist mid-altitude areas and matures in 4-5 months. It will be introduced in Kisii, Narok, Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Kisumu, Siaya, Embu and Nyeri.

Kenya joined the International Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants (upov) on 13 May 1998 as the 40 member and all kari varieties have been registered.

KARI signs Memorandum of Understanding with International Centre for Research in Agroforestry

Adapted by Mwangi Mwariri, KARI hqts

KARI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ICRAF on 30 April 2001 at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development headquarters. The signing took place at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters and was witnessed by among others the then Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Chris Obure, the Permanent Secretary Prof. Shem Migot Adhola, the Managing Director, Kenya Seed Company and staff from various departments of the ministry. KARI and ICRAF, in discharge of their respective public duties, are desirous to boost Kenya’s agricultural production on a sustainable basis through the intensification of land use and application of improved technologies. In its research activities over the years, KARI has carried out research on agroforestry and given resource supply for agroforestry research.

The agreement was inspired by the two institutions` common objective to promote and accelerate the progress of research related to the development of crop varieties and production technologies relevant to their respective mandates.

The primary objective of the MoU was to support research leading to production of fodder tree germplasm for sustainable agroforestry systems to ensure continued benefit by the country from scientific knowledge by:

  • establishing means and ways by which the parties can collaborate in order to further agroforestry research.
  • facilitating the co-operation and collaboration in matters of research between the two organisations.

ICRAF would also transfer to KARI a parcel of land measuring approximately 80.86 hectares situated in Machakos District, with all the facilities and assets. The piece of land had been leased from the government for a period of 33 years wef 28th July 1993.

According to the MoU:

  • KARI and ICRAF with mutual understanding shall allow scientists to use the field sites and laboratories situate at the centre for research purposes.
  • ICRAF and KARI visiting or resident scientists will be allowed access to social amenities for entertainment or libraries for reference purposes at each party’s facilities without let or hindrance.
  • KARI shall maintain the agroforestry testing sites identified to them by ICRAF and shall permit researchers from ICRAF to enter the said parcel of land so as to monitor their agroforestry testing site.
  • Scientists from ICRAF and KARI shall have access to the research findings of the two institutions subject to protection of the intellectual property rights and share recognition of their collaborative work.
  • ICRAF and KARI shall jointly facilitate the transfer of technology from agroforestry research to end-users.
  • The two parties shall jointly put emphasis on the training needs for staff, farmers and other stakeholders in agroforestry.

The Memorandum of Understanding shall remain in force unless terminated by both parties.

The parties undertake to act in good faith with respect to each other’s rights under the objectives of this Memorandum of Understanding.

KARI Signs Memorandum of Understanding With the Kenya Seed Company

Betty Kiplagat, KARI Hqts

KARI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya Seed Company (KSC) on 30 April 2001 at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development headquarters. It was witnessed by among others the former Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Hon Chris Obure, the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry Professor Migot Adhola, the Managing Director, Kenya Seed Company, Mr. Nathaniel Tum, and staff from various departments of the ministry.

The primary objective of the MoU is to sustain research leading to development of crop varieties in order to ensure that the country continues to benefit from research effort. Considerable mileage has been covered in the area of research leading to commercialisation of crop varieties bred by KARI. Notable examples include maize hybrids 614D, H511 and Katumani Composite B besides other crops such as sorghum and grain legumes.

Collaboration between the agricultural research system and seed production as represented by the Kenya Seed Company (KSC) started in the 1950s. The research system has developed improved seed of crop varieties adapted to unique agroclimatic regions of Kenya while the role of KSC has been to multiply seed of the parental materials and eventually make crosses (in the case of hybrids) for eventual commercialisation. In an era of dwindling financial resources from the exchequer and from donors to the public sector research system, it is imperative that arrangements be put in place for sustained agricultural research. KARI and KSC have reached an agreement, through by the signing of the MoU, for KSC to avail to KARI a mutually agreed financial contribution of Kshs 5 million per annum to go towards agricultural research. This arrangement is predicated on prior arrangement on KARI varieties predating August 14 1995.

Varieties released after that date would be subject to the provisions contained in the Seeds and Plant Varieties Act (Seed Regulations) under Cap 362 Laws of Kenya and UPOV Convention 1978, to which Kenya is a signatory. The Act recognises Plant Breeders Rights as a mechanism for motivating scientific excellence. Besides, KARI wishes to generate revenue as an alternative source of funding to finance agricultural research. It should be understood however that this token gesture from the private sector should be seen to be complimentary to financial allocation from the exchequer. This, then, will entail increasing allocation to agricultural research, which is the engine for agricultural and hence national development.

The MOU will be beneficial to the two parties while contributing to increased agricultural production country – wide, as this is one sure way of reducing poverty and increasing food security

KARI exhibits at Europe Day Reception

Dr Helga Recke

The 25th Anniversary of the Kenyan/European collaboration and Europe Day were celebrated concurrently with a reception at the Grand Regency Hotel on the evening of 9 May 2001. The Head of the European Commission (EC) Delegation, Mr. Gary Quince, had requested programmes and projects that receive EC funding to prepare an exhibition for this special occasion. Posters depicting investments in infrastructure at the KARI centres NARL, Katumani, Marsabit and Kiboko funded by the EU were mounted as well as posters showing some of the research results achieved especially on the Kenya camel and Zebu cattle characterisation.

A member of PEAR Group, an NGO operating in Ngurunit, Marsabit District, and two representatives of the Salato women group from Ngurunit offered samples of nyiri nyiri (fried meat bits) and sirikan (dried meat strips) at a stand decorated with traditional milk and meat containers from northern Kenya. The products had been produced during a hands-on training session on milk and meat preservation in the village in March to increase food security and create new avenues for income generation.

Eight other national and regional EC-funded programmes and projects also contributed to the exhibition. It was very well received by the guests comprising dignitaries from the Government of Kenya, representatives of the political parties, national and international research and development organisations, parastatals, the private sector, members of parliament, and the donor community. Mr. Quince thanked the Director KARI for the commitment and support for this important function which was an important milestone in the history of Kenyan / European relations.

KARI and Young Farmers Clubs participate in celebration of 100 years of Agricultural Society of Kenya

GN Gachini, NARL-Kabete

The Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) is celebrating 100 years since its formation. As part of the celebrations, the Young Farmers Clubs of Kenya (YFCK) participated in a national rally where lectures and demonstrations in various agricultural topics were made.
The held on 23 June 2001 at Jamhuri Park. In attendance were 37 secondary schools, colleges and agriculture youth centres representing the whole country. The national chairman, YFCK, Mr A Gamba, national secretary, Mr HO Omwenga, chief executive, Dr KA Lang' at and regional officials from Nairobi, Mombasa, Central Kenya, Eldoret, Kabarnet, Central Rift, Mt. Kenya, Nyanza, South Eastern Kenya and North Rift were present. Resource personnel from various organisations were also present.
The resource personnel were from the Ministry of Agriculture (bee keeping and crop production), Simlaw Seeds Limited (seed selection), Unga Feeds Limited (animal feeds and feeding), Sheep and Goat Development Project Naivasha (sheep and goat management and judging), Family Life Education Programme (Family life education), Artificial Insemination Services Kabete (artificial insemination), National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL)-KARI (soil assessment and testing), and experts in pig and poultry management.
Mr GN Gachini from NARL gave a lecture on soil assessment and testing, this being an opportunity to sell soil and plant testing services to the young farmers who could impart the information to their parents. It was also an occasion to enlighten these future farmers about constraints facing crop production from our ever diminishing pieces of land parcels due to sub-divisions as a result of population pressure.

Out of the 37 participating institutions, 24 attended the soil assessment and testing lecture, which covered: -

  • Ways through which plant nutrients are lost
  • Why soil and plant testing is done
  • What is determined in soil and plant tissues
  • Macro and micronutrients
  • Soil and plant tissue sampling
  • Cation exchange capacity and exchangeable bases
  • Soil physical measurements
  • Fertiliser and irrigation water testing
  • Data interpretation
  • Fertilisers and other soil amendments recommendation
  • Benefits of soil testing

Demonstrations on bee keeping and artificial insemination and lectures on various topics went on simultaneously.
After the lectures and demonstrations, 24 participants, each representing a club, were selected by the patrons to sit for a test paper. The top three won prizes which included certificates awarded to their clubs. The best-ranked student in soil testing was from Limuru Agricultural Youth Centre.

Farmers Analytical Advisory Services Stakeholder workshop for Mt. Kenya Region
 BN Gachini and Nyaga Mukiira, NARL-Kabete

The National Soil and Plant Laboratories Unit (NSPLU) is a Unit of the Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition Research Programme (SFNRP) which is one of the sections of National Agricultural Research Laboratories. This Unit offers analytical services in soil, plant tissue, inorganic and organic fertilisers, feed stuff, irrigation water and other soil amendments to farmers and researchers. From the early 90s, the number of samples received at the unit has drastically gone down from about 20,000 to a bare minimum of 4,000 per annum. It is with this in mind that a workshop was held for stakeholders from the Mt. Kenya region to find out what had caused the decline in sample delivery and come up with ways of sensitising them on the benefits of soil testing in soil fertility management. The theme of the workshop was 'Benefits of soil testing'.
The one day workshop held on 30 March 2001 at Mini-Inn Hotel, Embu was sponsored by EU under the promotion of Laboratory Analytical Services Workplan. Four district representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development from the Mount Kenya region attended. The District's represented were Mbere (District Crops Officer), Murang' a (District Agricultural Officer), Meru South (District Farm Management Officer), Embu (District Agricultural Officer), and Manyatta Division (Crops Officer).

Each district was represented by at least three active farmers. Two research officers from KARI RRC-Embu attended the workshop. Overall there were 30 participants.
Making the introductory remarks, Mr GN Gachini of NARL-KARI said that soil analytical results, no matter how good they are, are useless if they are not delivered in time for the farmer to apply the corrective measures advised. He emphasised the importance of accurate results delivered in time and reported in a user-friendly format for easy grasp by the farmer. He informed the participants of the new re-structured National Soil and Plant Laboratories Unit, which has taken a deliberate effort to reduce the delivery time to between 3 to 7 days from the previous 7-14 days. Mr Nyaga Mukiira presented the objectives while Mr Gachini talked on the benefits of soil testing.
The overall goal was to sensitise extension officers and farmers about the role of soil and plant testing tool in soil fertility management.

The main objectives were to:
initiate links with District Agricultural Officers from the five districts
make farmers aware of soil and plant analytical advisory services
sensitise stakeholders on the benefits of soil testing
exchange first hand information from field experiences on soil testing and how farmers perceive it
explore ways and means of reaching a wider user group of soil testing service information
identify knowledge gaps and work out methods and approaches to address the gaps
chart the way forward in the management of sustainable agricultural production systems for optimum yields.
Mr Gachini informed the participants about the benefits of soil testing such as the right type of fertiliser, application rate and time of application. The participants were also shown some simple sampling patterns that they can apply to get a representative composite soil sample. Handouts on the benefits of soil testing, illustrated sampling patterns, and brochures were distributed to participants.

Some issues of concern which farmers raised were:
lack of close links between soil testing services, extension staff and farmers
farmers inability to carry out soil sampling as the extension staff are few and not accessible
in the late 1980's and 1990's, soil testing reports took too long (sometimes 4-6 months) to reach the farmer
some farmers were not aware of how they could access soil testing services
lack of awareness of the value of soil and plant analysis.
From the foregoing, the participants were assured that the situation at the National Soil and Plant Laboratories Unit had greatly improved. Concerted efforts are being made to reduce the result delivery days to between 3-7 to enable the farmers to apply the recommendations and rectify deficiencies as soon as possible.The participants agreed that there was need to create awareness of the benefits of soil and plant testing in soil fertility management. Efforts should be made to create awareness to as many farmers as possible and reassure those who had lost confidence in the service.

It was suggested that in future:

Officers from the Soil and Plant Analytical Laboratories would attend farmers' field days.
The services would be advertised in the electronic and print media.
Posters detailing functions and benefits of soil testing would be put up in all district division and locational agricultural offices.
KARI's Collaboration with ASARECA grows V Oguya, KARI Hqts
As part of the ongoing collaborative activities with agricultural research institutions, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa – ASARECA - held a meeting with its non-funded regional agricultural research Networks, Programmes and Projects (NPP) in Entebbe Uganda, on 23 and 24 July 2001. The purpose of the meeting was to come up with indicators for impact assessment for ASARECA’s networks, programmes and projects. KARI was represented by Mrs. M Wabule, the Assistant Director Horticultural and Industrial Crops, who is also the acting chairperson of the Banana Research Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (BARNESA), Dr. A Kilewe, a senior research officer based at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL), who is also the chairperson of the Soil and Water Conservation Network (SWMNet), and Mrs V Oguya, the Acting Head of Library and Information Services, based at KARI headquarters. Attending also were representatives of the Trees On Farm Network (TOFNET), the Eastern and Central African Regional Sorghum and Millet Research Network (ECARSAM), and ASARECA staff.Opening the meeting, ASARECA’s executive secretary Prof G Murema, gave a short history of the evolution of the organisation. He stressed the importance of demonstrating the impact of agricultural research directly to farmers since extension staff, who had traditionally been entrusted with bridging the gap between the researcher and the farmer, had failed to deliver. New players such as NGOs and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) had come into the field to bridge this gap and since their approach to passing on information to farmers was new, it was important for researchers to adapt to the new environment.ASARECA’s regional programme co-ordinator Dr I Minde, gave a review of an ASARECA meeting which had taken place in Nairobi earlier in the year which was a prelude to the present meeting. The aim of the meeting was to eliminate misunderstandings between ASARECA’s various networks, programmes and projects brought about by different interpretations of common concepts, which were leading to weaknesses in collaboration making it difficult to work together towards the delivery of ASARECA’s strategic objectives. He stressed that business was no longer as usual as there was a paradigm shift where researchers were expected to demonstrate impact on stakeholders or target populations. The main weakness in the impact assessment process was the gap between those who cause impact and those who measure it. When those who cause impact call outsiders assessors, they may measure what was not planned for or expected because those causing impact were not expecting certain parameters to be measured.The specific objectives of the meeting therefore were to:
seek and ensure a common understanding of the impact chain conceptual framework
ensure that there is common understanding of the ASARECA strategic framework

ensure that each generic NPP could clearly articulate its goal, purpose and outputs in relation to the mission of ASARECA
ensure that each generic NPP could identify relevant and measurable indicators for its goal, purpose and outputs
introduce NPP’s to gender concepts and frameworks of analysis and their integration in agricultural researchASARECA’s technical officer for monitoring and evaluation Dr. A Taha, who was also the chairman of the meeting, gave the organisation's objectives including a definition of key concepts and the key words characterising them. In conclusion, he called upon each network, programme and project to define their own objectives and come up with outputs and indicators to see how this can contribute to the achievement of ASARECA's objectives.Wrapping it all up, Dr. A Mbabu, ASARECA’s technical officer – planning, outlined the objectives of the next meeting scheduled for Dar-es-Salaam. It had been deemed necessary to hold 3 meetings since there are many players in the field from different countries and institutions entering the project at different levels. Approaches needed to be standardised and harmonised so as to achieve the common objective. A comprehensive impact orientation would ensure all actors would begin with the end in sight and there was a logical link from the activity level to the ultimate goal. Responsibility increased as one moved up from the project to the network level. Therefore, the general objective of the Dar-es-Salaam meeting would be to harmonise planning, monitoring and evaluation framework at different operational levels with a view to consolidating impact orientation in the ASARECA portfolio.Continued collaboration with ASARECA will enhance KARI’s effectiveness and efficiency as it tackles the problems facing agricultural development in Kenya and the region. A project proposal under ASARECA's AFRICALINK project currently being developed, is expected to enhance electronic communication in KARI.
KARI Headquarters Staff Welfare Society (KAHWESO)
holds inaugural annual general meeting
Sitawa Ogutu, KARI Hqts

The KARI Conference Hall was the venue of the landmark official launching of the KARI Headquarters Welfare Association, KAHWESO, on Friday 13 July 2001. The attendance was encouraging as it outnumbered the proposed quorum (two thirds) for annual general meetings. Members were eager to ratify the society’s constitution proposed by the Interim Management Committee and adopt it to enhance the immediate commencement of operations.The returning officer, Mr Benjamin Onyancha, Welfare Officer, KARI Headquarters guided members through the meeting. Top on the agenda after the opening prayer delivered by Pastor James Oduor Ng’ong’a, was the Interim Chairman’s speech wherein he reiterated the need for a participatory development of the Society’s constitution before adoption. The Chairman emphasised the need for members to build up their shares after adopting the constitution to ensure the growth and financial stability of the society. Mr Maghanga encouraged members to contribute new ideas to be incorporated into the constitution to safeguard members’ interests as the Society continued to grow in membership and stature. Members were pleased to learn that the Director KARI, Dr Romano Kiome had not only expressed his support for the society but had also accepted to be the Patron and to provide guidance in the planning of investment to be undertaken in the near future.There was overwhelming support for adoption of the proposed constitution; nevertheless members brainstormed over the most sensitive articles and exercised their voting right to reach a consensus whenever there was a stalemate. Some notable amendments/ratification made to the proposed constitution before adoption were:

The change in name of the society to, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Headquarters Staff Welfare Society, to be also known by the acronym KAHWESO.
The Society’s financial year shall be from 1 July to 30 June of the subsequent yearA membership fee of KSh.50.00 be recovered from members’ July 2001 salary.Only KARI Headquarters staff shall be members of the society with the exception of five (5) members from the Biotechnology Section at NARL-Kabete who had enrolled with the Society at its inception.
Any member wishing to resign/withdraw from the Society shall give a notice of not more than 60 days.
A 2% interest shall be recovered from members loans on a monthly reducing balance
Any member who resigns or is removed from membership shall not be eligible for membership thereafter.
A sum of KSh.50.00 shall be recovered from members with effect from July 2001 towards a benevolent fund to safeguard members’ investments and to cater for emergencies.Members of the management committee shall be entitled to refreshments during committee meetings.
Members adopted the amended constitution and proceeded to elect officials of the Society as listed below:

Mr Ferghus Maghanga
Personnel (Payroll)

Ms Immaculate Munyao
Vice Chairperson
ARF Secretariat

Mr JK Sitawa Ogutu
IDS (Publications)

Ms Judith Afundi
Assistant Secretary
Personnel (Payroll)

Ms Sarah Kamoni
Headquarters Accounts

Mr Moses Karuga
Assistant Treasurer
Personnel (Welfare Office)

Mr Wilson Kinyua Ndereva

Ms Rose Mwangi
Personnel (CAO’s Office)
Ms Wilkister Nyangweso
Supplies (Procurement)

Mr Sevestino Masubo
Personnel (Mail Office)
The new KAHWESO management committee comprising six (6) office bearers and four (4) committee members shall hold office for one year but shall be eligible for re-election after the expiry of their term in office.

Between January and June 2001, KARI lost 130 members of staff through normal retirement (62), transfer of services to Kenya Sugar Research Foundation, KESREF (43) and natural attrition (21). Two officers were retired on medical grounds while 2 resigned voluntarily. The Institute has engaged a total of 25 new employees since January. These include 12 Research Officers, one Senior Research Officer and 12 officers in various cadres. KARI Deputy Director, Research and Technology, Dr JS Wafula, was granted two and a half years leave of absence to take up the appointment of Managing Director General, African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum (ABSF).

Dr Ephraim A Mukisira - acting Deputy Director, Research and Technology - beginning (August 2001)
Dr Christopher Ngichabe – Co-ordinator, KARI Biotechnology Centre - beginning (8 May 2201)Dr George Okwach – Centre Director, NDFRC-Katumani - wefDr Miriam Kinyua - Centre Director, NPBRC-Njoro - beginning 2 May 2001
Dr Henry Wamwayi – Deputy Centre Director, NVRC-Muguga – beginning (11 April 2001)Dr George A Ayaga – Deputy Director, NARL-Kabete - Beginning (1 April 2001)Dr Omari Odongo – acting Centre Director, RRC-Kakamega - beginning (1 September 2001)Dr George A Keya – Centre Director, NALRC-Marsabit - wefMr SM Ndei - acting Chief Administrative Officer - beginning (1 April 2001)
Mr. FM Ruiru - acting Chief Supplies Officer - beginning (24 April 2001)
Mr Kiaye – Business Manager - beginning (1 August 2001)