CABI CEO Kenya visit

CABI CEO Dr Daniel Elger recently visited the CABI Africa regional office in Nairobi, Kenya and held discussions with in-country partners ahead of the Africa Regional Consultations scheduled for May 2022.

Dr Eliud Kireger, Director General, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and CABI’s Liaison Officer for Kenya, appreciated the long-lasting partnership that has seen the successful implementation of numerous programmes and projects in the country. Dr Elger expressed the valuable contributions from Kenya – a CABI member country – and outlined how the country’s input in the upcoming Africa Regional Consultations will greatly help shape CABI’s next global Medium-Term Strategy for 2023-2025.

At the KALRO Muguga research station, ongoing classical biological control experiments on papaya mealybug using a parasitoid were showcased. The Papaya mealybug is estimated to cause up to 53% -100% yield loss in papaya production- the 4th most important fruit crop in Kenya. CABI is working with KEPHIS and KALRO and farmers in papaya growing counties along the Kenyan coast to roll out a coordinated release of the Encyrtid wasp (Acerophagus papayae). The CEO was also briefed on progress made on trials testing the use of drones and the biopesticide GreenMuscle to manage desert locust swarms in Kenya with potential for scaling to other affected African countries in the future.

Prof Theophilus Mutui, Managing Director of the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), welcomed the CEO during a visit to the organisation headquarters and applauded the impact CABI has had on his organisation over the years. Prof Mutui outlined how past and present joint initiatives have directly supported safe trade, enhanced productivity through reducing the impact of pests, increased the country’s cross-border relationships with other National Plant Protection Organisations and raised KEPHIS capacity to support national, regional and international plant health sectors. CABI’s support towards surveillance of potato diseases in Kenya was acknowledged in the discussions held by the team after touring the laboratory facilities. The potato sector employs approximately 3.3 million people of which 800,000 are smallholder farmers, located in the rural poor and involved directly in potato production.

During a meeting with Michael Misiko, Agriculture Director, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), there was a renewed interest to rekindle the CABI-TNC partnership. CABI and TNC have a long-shared history, as founders of the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP). Both organisations have been instrumental in managing invasive species using biological solutions in conservation areas. Dr Elger and CABI’s Director General-Development, Dr Dennis Rangi afterwards met Dr Segenet Kelemu, Director General of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) and deliberated on strategies to expand bilateral collaboration between the two organisations, and by extension joint initiatives under the Association of International Research and Development Centres for Agriculture (AIRCA) umbrella.

CABI CEO Kenya plant clinic visit

Dr Daniel Elger speaks to Elizabeth Njoroge-a plant doctor at the Wanginge plant clinic (Credit: CABI).

Being Dr Elger’s first overseas visit since joining CABI in September 2020, the CEO got first-hand experience on projects being implemented across Africa. During his visit to the Plantwise e-plant clinic at the Wangige market, he observed plant doctors diagnose plant health problems and provide recommendations to smallholder farmers. Being an e-plant clinic, the plant doctors meticulously observed the specimens brought to the clinic and used their handheld digital devices to capture and send crop health advice via text messages to the farmers. Farmers expressed how frequent visits to plant clinics are helping them receive advice, which benefits their crop production and livelihoods by losing less to pests and diseases.

Closing his visit, Dr Eger expressed his appreciation for the work being done despite the challenges posed by COVID 19 and applauded the efforts of CABI staff and partners in the region. He urged them to continue the good work, putting more effort into emerging problems, especially those arising post-COVID.


Additional information

Main photo: CABI delegation at the KEPHIS headquarters, Nairobi (Credit: CABI).

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The Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture (AIRCA) is a seven-member alliance focused on increasing global food security by supporting smallholder agriculture within healthy, sustainable and climate-smart landscapes

Membership of AIRCA includes: CAB International (CABI), UK; Crops for the Future (CFF), Malaysia; International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), United Arab Emirates; International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal; International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya; International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), USA; and World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg), Taiwan.