The BecA-ILRI Hub alumni run DNA barcoding training for Kenya plant health regulatory body

23 February 2017—The BecA-ILRI Hub is providing technical support to a three-day workshop on DNA barcoding at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS)

Alumni of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s Africa Bioscience Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship program–Florence Munguti (acting officer in charge, plant quarantine station) and Isaac Macharia (acting regional manager, Mombasa) are facilitating the training which runs from 22–24 February at the KEPHIS plant quarantine station in Muguga on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. 

The training is as a major step in technology transfer to regional research institutions that are under constant pressure to tackle emerging challenges in agricultural research.

‘This training is evidence of sustainability of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s intervention towards strengthening bioscience research capacity to meet new research challenges in the region,’ said Wellington Ekaya who heads the BecA-ILRI Hub's capacity building ABCF program.

Through strategic and diverse partnerships with renowned international research and capacity building institutes, the ABCF program mentors and hosts of African scientists to enable them leverage advances in bioscience technology to advance their national and regional research priorities.

‘I realized that DNA barcoding, which I learnt while at the BecA-ILRI Hub, can enhance efficiency and accuracy in crop disease diagnostics’ said Macharia who developed a crop disease diagnostic tool to potentially prevent the 80 – 100 per cent losses currently experienced by tomato farmers in the region during his ABCF fellowship. 

‘The facilities at the BecA-ILRI Hub are truly world-class’ said Munguti. ‘Researchers don’t have to leave the continent to conduct very advanced research with such labs close to home,’ she added, emphasizing that the mentorship and exposure offered had contributed significantly to her growth as a science leader.

James Wahome, KEPHIS general manager for phytosanitary services, officially opened the workshop. During his speech, Wahome lauded the training as a critical step to ensuring KEPHIS remained relevant in the region. 

‘The Muguga facility not only serves Kenya but is a regional reference laboratory for plant protection for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region,’ said Wahome, ‘as such, it is imperative that we always stay a step ahead in technology.’



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