JKUAT Receives USD 200,000 Research Grant from USAID for ICT-driven Agricultural Project

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded a research grant of USD 200,000 to a team of multidisciplinary researchers from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). This funding, facilitated through the Feed the Future (FtF) Innovation Lab for Horticulture initiative, will support an innovative project aimed at exploring the potential impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on agricultural practices.

Led by Prof. Willis Owino from the Department of Food Science & Technology, the project titled "ICT Landscape in Horticultural Value Chains for Inclusive Community Food System Resiliency and Potential Paths for Social Transformation in Kenya" will span three years until 2026. The research team, consisting of Dr Winnie Nyonje, Dr Geoffrey Otieno, and Mr Marvin Muriungi, will focus on investigating the use of ICT platforms by farmers in accessing information related to production techniques and market opportunities. The study will particularly focus on three crops—tomatoes, mangoes, and cowpeas—which are known for their high production volume and economic value.

The main objective of the project is to examine how farmers are leveraging ICT platforms to enhance their knowledge and decision-making processes in agriculture. By assessing the impact of ICT adoption, the researchers aim to generate valuable insights that can inform policymaking in the agricultural sector, empowering farmers to maximize the benefits of their ventures. This initiative is in line with the mission of the FtF program, which seeks to provide individuals with the necessary knowledge and tools to address the root causes of poverty and hunger, reduce reliance on aid, and create opportunities for future generations while fostering global stability.

On May 19, 2023, a tour of the horticultural innovations at JKUAT was conducted with the presence of Prof. Elizabeth Mitcham, Director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab. Accompanied by visitors from the University of California, Davis, USAID, and other dignitaries, Prof. Mitcham commended JKUAT for its significant expansion of the research base and expressed optimism regarding the potential outcomes of the project. She highlighted the importance of the project's findings in enhancing agricultural practices and driving overall advancements in the sector.

The tour served as the culmination of the 2023 Annual Feed the Future Innovation Labs Regional Partners Meeting, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from May 15 to 19. The meeting, themed "Systemic Solutions for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation in Agriculture, Food, and Nutrition Systems," focused on addressing the challenges posed by climate change through international collaboration.

The FtF initiative promotes partnerships among various sectors and the U.S. Government, leveraging their unique skills and insights to drive targeted and coordinated transformations in food systems. Implemented across countries and regions including Asia, Central America, East Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa, FtF aims to enhance food security and nutrition by revolutionizing the functioning of food systems.

The research grant awarded to the JKUAT team reflects the university's commitment to promoting innovative solutions in agriculture and sustainable farming practices. The anticipated outcomes of this project are expected to serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, farmers, and other stakeholders, empowering them to make informed decisions and drive positive change within the agricultural sector.

Article by RB Correspodent