Global food security is one of the biggest challenges today more so due to its close relation with poverty, it has thus became a subject of many public debates with the aim of finding sustainable resolutions, among the possible solutions under consideration is the firming up of the horticultural sector which has the potential to foster improvement of the nutritional status and increase incomes among vulnerable people. In Kenya as well as in neighboring countries, majority of the population are unable to meet their daily nutritional requirements, despite a good number of them depending on farming. Horticultural crops, particularly leafy vegetables, provide essential nutrients lacking in the diet of millions. Additionally, horticulture being largely labor-intensive it stands to be provide employment opportunities to many.
“In order to improve the current nutritional status of the population of rural and peri-urban regions of Kenya, promoting a more balanced diet by increasing the consumption of fresh and optimally processed African Leafy Vegetables (ALV) is advisable”
Horticultural Innovations and Learning for Improved Nutrition and Livelihood in East Africa (HORTINLEA) is an interdisciplinary research consortia funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research aimed at addressing food security in East Africa, particularly in Kenya. Nineteen universities and research institutions in Kenya, Tanzania and Germany have collaborated to add value from their academic excellence and expertise. The overall goal of the consortium is to improve the livelihood and nutritional situation of the rural and urban poor. Focusing on horticulture and leafy vegetables, HORTINLEA seeks to meet the pressing challenges of malnutrition, poverty and sustainability by adopting an integrated approach which combines poverty, environmental and gender concerns as well as encompasses the entire value chain from production to marketing and consumption of leafy vegetables.
Kenyatta University is Part of this Great Initiative
“Under this Project we has been able to train 75PhD, 60% being Kenyans and therefore contributing to the Kenya Government efforts of ensuring 1000 PhDs are trained per year in order to improve quality of University education. Prof. Waceke”
Prof. Waceke Wanjohi, Dean, School of Agriculture and Enterprise Development and a member of the HORTINLEA Executive Board was involved in the development and successful establishment and funding of this initiative in 2014 and is the principal investigator in one of the 14 subprojects entitled ‘Development of Integrated Pest Management Strategies for the Production of Important Vegetable Crops in Kenya’. The overall aim of this sub project is to develop integrated pest and disease control strategies for increased yield and to ensure crop quality. The project seeks to develop sustainable management strategies for a) Root-knot Nematode pests, viruses and phytoplasmas on African nightshades, b) cowpea insect pests and c) insect pests and diseases on leafy indigenous vegetables in Kenya. The projects expected outputs will increase knowledge, develop adequate management strategies and affordable solutions, which will improve vegetable production and further increase income opportunities and access to nutritive vegetables. This project is in collaboration with Humboldt-University Berlin (HUB), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ), Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
“Prevention is the best method to protect the environment from contamination by heavy metals”
Dr. Joseph Gweyi, a senior lecturer in the Department of Agriculture Science and Technology, alsopartnered with HORTRINLEA to provide knowledge on the current status of soil fertility management and to identify possible constraints for vegetable production in the peri-urban area of Nairobi due to mineral nutrients, soil organic matter (contents and heavy metals). The sub-project titled ‘Crop-specific carbon and mineral element fluxes for sustainable soil fertility and nutrient management in horticultural production systems’,aims to determine and analyze the current status and sources of heavy metal contamination of vegetables, and of crop specific plant traits regulating heavy metal contamination. The projects expected outputs will serve as a basis for series of options and locally tailored recommendations for integrated Soil organic matter and nutrient management in horticultural production systems, and avoidance of heavy metal hazard of vegetable consumers. This project is in collaboration with partners from Humboldt-University Berlin (HUB), Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOST) and Egerton University.
The joint research project HORTINLEA is funded within the framework of the Programme GlobE – Global Food Security by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development with a grant of up to 7.5 million Euros over five years.
Prof. Waceke Wanjohi
Dean, School of Agriculture and Enterprise Development
Dr. Joseph Gweyi
Department of Agricultural Science and Technology