The Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education and Research Amb. Simon Nabukwesi, on Friday 4 February 2022 toured Egerton University’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM). The tour was part of the African Centres of Excellence (ACE) Steering Committee meeting chaired by the PS Amb. Nabukwesi at Main Campus in Njoro.
Amb. Nabukwesi first paid a courtesy call to the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Isaac Kibwage. During the meeting, the PS commended the three ACE II participating universities comprising Egerton University, Moi University, and Jaramogi Odinga Oginga University of Science and Technology for their prudent management of the project.
“The ACE II project is one of the projects that have been handled well. Universities are tasked to deliver high-quality training and research. The three universities are principal producers of knowledge in the region and they have had a good focus on their specific ACE II projects,” said PS Amb. Nabukwesi.
The ACE II project is a World Bank-sponsored project to strengthen selected Eastern and Southern African universities to deliver quality postgraduate education and build collaborative research capacity in priority areas.
In 2016 the World Bank selected Egerton University to host CESAAM, JOOUST has sustainable use of insects as food and feed (INSEFOODS) and Moi University has the centre of excellence in phytochemicals textiles and renewable energy (PTRE). Each university received a grant of 6 million USD.
Amb. Nabukwesi noted that the three universities demonstrated improvement in productivity and management of their projects, with visible achievements in postgraduate training and support for research and innovations. He called upon integrating the projects into the respective university governance structure to ensure sustainability in the long run.
During the meeting chaired by Amb. Nabukwesi, each university gave a detailed presentation of their progress in their respective projects. After the meeting the ACE II Steering Committee toured the Dairy & Food Science Lab, Agric-engineering students and staff research and innovations works, Animal Sciences students research site, and the CESAAM female students hostel.
In his presentation, CESAAM Centre Leader Prof. George Owuor outlined its vision and mission as well as its specific objectives and these are capacity development along the agricultural value chain in the Eastern and Southern Africa region; to undertake innovative research, including use of biotechnology and climate-smart agriculture for increased crop and livestock productivity; enhance the capacity of the University’s Agro-Science Park to assist partner universities establish a similar model for incubation of technological innovations, and develop evidence-based agricultural policy briefs and disseminate best practices through Agricultural Knowledge Centers in CESAAM and partner universities.
As of 2022, CESAAM has 240 graduate students (168 Masters and 72 PhD) with female students at 52%. It has fully achieved national accreditation and has submitted four programmes (Msc Agribusiness, Crop Protection, Food Science and Animal Nutrition) for international accreditation.
CESAAM has published 214 articles in internationally refereed journals and is looking to publish 20 publications for this quarter.
The Vice-Chancellor, JOOUST Prof. Stephen G. Agong, during the meeting, said that there was a need for the second phase of the ACE II project to make it more sustainable in the future.
Egerton’s VC Prof. Kibwage noted that the three universities are producing innovations that are addressing current economic challenges, and there was an opportunity for the Kenya National Innovation Agency to work with researchers to commercialize these innovations.
He called upon the Principal Secretary to advocate on behalf of universities to address the gaps in funding towards research and human capital areas.
Amb. Nabukwesi on the same day officially opened the CESAAM Complet at Main Campus in Njoro. The Complex will serve as CESAAM’s main offices.