Kenyan-Chinese Collaboration Advances Research and Conservation Efforts

JKUAT and CAS officials after renewing agreement on SAJOREC

In a remarkable synergy of academic and scientific collaboration, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have announced the extension of their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This renewal secures the operation and management of the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center (SAJOREC) for an additional five years, marking a resounding commitment to advancing research and academic capacity building.

The extended MoU reaffirms the shared interests of JKUAT and CAS in expanding their educational ties and nurturing academic growth and research excellence. The official signing ceremony of this monumental agreement bore testimony to the profound impact of SAJOREC since its inception in 2013.

During the signing ceremony, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, Vice Chancellor of JKUAT, lauded the transformative influence of SAJOREC. This dynamic partnership has yielded groundbreaking research outcomes and technological advancements, addressing a wide spectrum of critical issues ranging from environmental sustainability to revolutionary agricultural innovations. Notably, it has facilitated the transfer of cutting-edge technology solutions to address healthcare challenges.

One of the standout achievements of this collaboration is the development of a modern agricultural demonstration area within SAJOREC. This initiative has showcased remarkable potential in elevating crop production, promising to enhance Kenya's food security by boosting crop yields.

Beyond elevating JKUAT's stature in vital fields such as biodiversity, geographic remote sensing, and molecular biology, Prof. Ngumi underscored the invaluable opportunities this partnership has provided for both staff and students. These include skill-building experiences in China through SAJOREC and joint research publications in esteemed high-impact journals.

Prof. Yin Hejun, Vice President of CAS, conveyed the academy's unwavering commitment to collaborating with institutions dedicated to producing action-oriented research. Such research aims to provide practical and sustainable solutions, not only for Kenya but also for addressing global challenges. Prof. Yin acknowledged JKUAT's longstanding partnership with China and underscored the paramount importance of knowledge exchange between the two institutions.

This collaborative effort extends beyond national borders, as Prof. Yin noted that JKUAT hosts one of several CAS research centres worldwide. This global network facilitates the exchange of ideas and experiences, further enhancing the synergistic relationship between the institutions.

The renewal of the MoU is a fitting tribute to the decade-long collaboration between JKUAT and CAS through SAJOREC. This enduring partnership has played a pivotal role in positioning JKUAT as a trailblazer in higher education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. It reaffirms the commitment of both institutions to the advancement of knowledge and the pursuit of solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.

In a parallel scientific endeavour of global significance, Kenyan and Chinese scientists have united to launch Kenya's inaugural national flora publication, titled the "Flora of Kenya." This ambitious project, consisting of 31 volumes, seeks to document nearly 7,000 plant species representing 223 families found in Kenya. This comprehensive undertaking not only advances botanical research but also significantly contributes to conservation efforts in the region.

The initiative commenced with the release of the inaugural volume, "Rubiaceae," and is published through the collaborative efforts of Hubei Science and Technology Press and the East African Natural History Society. The "Flora of Kenya" publication is the result of nearly a decade of dedicated field research, specimen collection, and documentation conducted by both Chinese and Kenyan scientists.

This collaborative endeavour draws upon the expertise of researchers from esteemed institutions such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center (SAJOREC), and the National Museums of Kenya, highlighting the power of international cooperation in advancing scientific research and conservation goals.

Mary Gikungu, Director-General of the National Museums of Kenya, emphasized the profound significance of this publication. She praised the collaboration between Chinese and Kenyan scientists, underscoring its vital role in the conservation of species crucial for food security and climate resilience in Kenya. Through this partnership with China, the National Museums of Kenya has enhanced the capacity of its researchers to champion grassroots habitat conservation.

Liu Weidong, director of the Bureau of International Cooperation of the CAS, highlighted that the "Flora of Kenya" publication will shed light on the country's extensive repository of plant species, contributing to their sustainable conservation. Monday's launch of the publication also reaffirmed the critical role of Sino-Kenyan scientific collaboration in strengthening the conservation of natural resources and advancing sustainability goals.

The "Flora of Kenya" publication showcases the results of nearly a decade of field research, illuminating China's prowess in the field of plant science. Wang Qingfeng, director of the Wuhan Botanical Garden of the CAS, highlighted that both Chinese and Kenyan scientists have conducted extensive field surveys, collected specimens, and documented new species, enriching the understanding of botany among scientists and the public alike.

Launched in 2015, the Flora of Kenya research project involved numerous field expeditions across the country, entailing the collection and identification of a vast number of plant specimens and the documentation of thousands of plants. This comprehensive effort underscores the collaborative spirit of scientists from two nations working hand in hand to advance botanical knowledge and conservation in Kenya, transcending borders for the greater good.


Article by Nyokabi Wanjiku