Agricultural Research Connections workshop, Nairobi
Prof Urwin was one of about 50 scientists from UK, SSA and the USA invited in May to this workshop sponsored by BBSRC, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub. The workshop, on biotic stress in crop plants aimed to foster international scientific collaborations that could contribute to the advancement of agriculture in SSA for the benefit of smallholder farmers.
In addition to learning about agriculture in Kenya, attendees were given the opportunity to describe their own areas of expertise and explore possible collaborations with other workshop participants. Visits were made to small farmers who had employed the advice of extension workers to different extents. This provided insights into some of the issues they faced. A number of institutions were visited including Kenyatta University and the impressive BecA Hub, built with Canadian support to provide excellent research infrastructure.
The visit was considered to be extremely worthwhile and a valuable experience, learning first-hand of African agricultural systems, the limitations of current infrastructure and the steps taken to improve the depth of research in Kenya. It provided an opportunity for discussions with pre-existing collaborators of the Plant Nematology lab. at Leeds. A key collaboration on a project centred on the creation and utilisation of a TILLING platform for cassava was strengthened for Africa College members by the introduction of new partners. Discussions of funding opportunities for the project with the representatives of sponsors revealed potential new opportunities.
9th July 2010