The University of Nairobi through the department of Plant science and crop protection held a workshop on the propagation and utilization of Melia volkensii (Mukau tree). The workshop is the result of a partnership between the department and various collaborators including Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Ghent University, Better Globe, Vliruos, Dudutech, Kenya Forest Service and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Melia volkensii is an endogenous hard word tree species of the agroforestry trees in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya and other parts of the world. This tree grows fast, is drought resistant, resistant to insect attack, has medicinal properties and its twigs and fruits can be used as fodder. The tree holds great promise for the greening of the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya.
Prof Moses Nyangito, Dean Faculty of Agriculture in his welcoming remarks on behalf of the Associate Vice Chancellor (RIE) Prof Margret Hutchinson highlighted the need for continued collaborations and partnerships between the university and various stakeholders in the private and public sectors. “We desire to be a research-driven institution”, revealed Prof Nyagito stating that this would only be achieved with such partnerships and collaborations in research work. Prof Nyangito said such purposeful research works will enable farmers in various parts of the country to benefit from the numerous benefits such species have in Agriculture.
Speaking during the workshop The Belgian Ambassador to Kenya H.E Peter Maddens who officially opened the workshop called for increased partnerships. He called for increased collaborations between Kenya and Belgian universities, stating that his presence in the workshop was a sign of the Belgian government's commitment to such a course, he however, stated the importance of involving the private sector in such collaborations and partnerships, “The state cannot be the perpetual player in this work the private sector has to play it’s a role too” said the ambassador in his remarks.
Some of the key highlights covered during the workshop included In-vitro propagation of the Melia volkensii , the Utilization of the tree’s insecticidal extract found on the tree’s leaves and fruits, the extraction of bioactive compounds and the capacity building of UON’S in-vitro laboratory to handle the micro propagation of the species.
Dr Oscar Koech , Mr. Kennedy Nganga , Mr. Constantin Dushimimana and Ms. Sicily Muchira all from the University of Nairobi covered the topic of Propagation techniques of Melia volkensii others who covered the topic was Prof. Stefaan from Ghent university, Mr. Saito from JICA and Ms. Priscilla Kimani from KEFRI.
On the derived bio pesticides from Melia volkensii Ms. Purity Muli , Mr. Benson Iningu from UON , DR. Vitalis Wekesa from Dudutech, Prof .Guy Smagghe from Ghent and DR. Victor Jaoko from KEFRI presented their research findings during the workshop.
Present in the workshop also were Dr. Jackson Mulatya, deputy director of Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Mr. Peter Nduati, deputy conservator of forests, Kenya Forestry Service and Mr. Paul Deprins managing director of Better Globe Forestry who thanked the Belgian Ambassador for the generous donations from the Belgian Development Agency through VLIR-UOS project on ‘joining efforts to produce elite Melia Volkensii clones and to validate its derived bio-pesticides” granted to the University of Nairobi in collaboration with KEFRI,Better Globe Forestry Ltd and Ghent University. .