The School of Agriculture hosted a Diversifying food systems workshop organized jointly with Humboldt University, in Berlin, Germany from 4 - 12 September 2014. September passed in the spirit of healthy and nutritious African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) at Kenyatta University Conference Centre. Under the aegis of an international research project Horticultural Innovations and Learning for Improved Nutrition and Livelihood in East Africa” (HORTINLEA), more than sixty dedicated researchers and thirty young doctoral students from Kenya, Germany and other countries came together to discuss how AIVs could be utilized to improve livelihoods, create wealth and enhance food security in Kenya and in the region.
Preceded by a very successful Inaugural summer school for the HORTINLEA Ph.D. students held between 4- 7th September, the annual workshop both held at the Kenyatta University conference Center (KUCC) from 8 to 11 September provided a pleasant venue and conducive environment for exchanging of ideas and meeting of diverse practitioners/actors in AIV value chain. “There was a vital information exchange and various workshops were held, which according to many members was essential to keep this interdisciplinary project moving together”, said Prof. Wolfgang Bokelmann, Leader of the HORTINLEA Consortium and Chairman of the Executive Board. The members presented their results as well as their plans and discussed value chain strategies. There was also a dissemination workshop where project partners from leading universities such as Humboldt University, Kenyatta University, JKUAT and Egerton University and experts from organizations such as German Development Agency GIZ, SustaiNet East Africa and Bioversity International explored how promising inventions and existing traditional knowledge could be disseminated through effective channels. For example, innovative water saving technologies through minimal tillage are being developed which will be made accessible to smallholders through a computer based decision support system and a mobile phone application. Capacity building was an important theme during this year’s meeting, the PhD students had an opportunity to design and present an overview poster of their research topic based on their specific subproject.
They took the consortium through their topic, key interventions they aim to employ in solving the problem and the overall plan of their study. For example, Ms. Grace Odongo's presentation on the chemoprotective potential of AIVs against the food-borne human carcinogen aflatoxin highlighted their use for reducing the risk of liver cancer. The joint research project Diversifying food systems - Horticultural Innovations and Learning for Improved Nutrition and Livelihood in East Africa” (HORTINLEA) is funded within the framework of the Programme GlobE – Global Food Security by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development with a grant of up to 7.5 million Euros over five years.