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Chinese University boosts the fight against hunger through research

By Lucie Morangi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-10-17 11:45

Efforts to fight poverty and hunger in East Africa have been boosted by the donation of $1 million in state-of-the art laboratory equipment by Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU).

Chinese University boosts the fight against hunger through research


Moses Rugutt (left), director general of National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation in Kenya and the Chancellor at the Embassy of China in Kenya Yao Ming unveil the plaque of the Modern Molecular Biology Lab at Egerton University. [Photo by Liu Hongjie]


Unveiled on Friday, the crop molecular lab, established at Egerton University, is expected to host crop species and genetics research by students and scientists from China and Kenya. This will subsequently lead to production of improved seed varieties that would combat food insecurity perpetually facing the region due to erratic climate.

In May this year, the United Nations and other international humanitarian organizations announced food shortages and famine across the region. More than 36 million people are facing hunger across southern and eastern Africa.

In a speech read by Director General of National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation in Kenya Moses Rugutt, the cabinet minister of Education, Science and Technology, praised the partnership by saying the laboratory will play a significant role in relieving food insecurity facing Kenya. He noted that China, with a population of 1.3 billion, has strengthened its food security by modernizing agricultural production. "We need to emulate this trend. Innovation will help improve people's lives, alleviate poverty and make build resilience against the vulgarities of climate change."

According to Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of Academic Affairs of Egerton University Alexander Kahi, collaboration between the two universities has developed into a world class partnership of international value. "Under the 20+20 project, Egerton University has benefited from faculty exchange, student training, lab construction and capacity training. We are already benefiting from the Modern Molecular Biology Lab equipment in research and teaching. Egerton is now the only university in Kenya with such an advanced laboratory for plants research and genetics," he said in his keynote speech.

Present during the ceremony were the Vice President of Nanjing Agricultural University Wang Chunchun, Dean of the International Education College of Nanjing Liu Zhimin and the Chancellor at the Embassy of China in Kenya Yao Ming.

Kahi also announced the approval of a joint proposal by the Kenyan government on the establishment of the China-Africa Centre for Food Security that is worth over $30 million, which is now under evaluation by the Chinese government.

On his part, the vice president of Nanjing said the Kenyan institution is one of their important international partners. He was pleased by the joint cooperation saying the local institution will provide managers, technicians and platform space, while Nanjing will support teachers and graduate students from the two universities to carry out cooperative research projects at the lab.

"We will persistently support the development of the Confucius Institute, including applying for more agricultural projects and selecting excellent teachers and managers to work in the Confucius Institute to ensure the sound and sustainable development of the Confucius Institute," said Wang.

China and Kenya governments initiated the project of Cooperation in Higher Education in 1995. More than 30 PhDs and 40 Master's degrees have been earned at Egerton. From 2003-2010, two professors from NAU were based at the Kenyan university.

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