Kenyan scientists learn post-harvest, marketing techniques at LSU AgCenter

Johnny Morgan  |  10/28/2016 3:34:25 PM

(10/28/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter and Egerton University in Nakuru, Kenya, are joining forces to develop a program to improve economic development and poverty reduction in rural areas of the African nation.

During the first three weeks of October, agronomy professor Anthony Kibe and senior lecturer Mariam Mwangi of Egerton University spent time in the United States in a post-harvest horticulture training program they will be able to use in their country, said David Picha, training leader and director of International Programs at the AgCenter.

“Kenya is well-known for its high-value vegetable crop and cut flower exports to Europe,” Picha said. “So we’re working with them to address their postharvest and marketing challenges.”

The objectives of the program they were here to develop are to enhance the capacity of their faculty to conduct applied post-harvest technology research and disseminate appropriate technical information to alleviate constraints in storing and marketing fruit, vegetable and flower crops, Picha said.

The program is designed to benefit the private sector, particularly small-scale Kenyan farmers and female stakeholders in the horticulture sector.

As the program develops, they hope to exchange faculty and students between both universities, Picha said.

In addition, the program will establish a memorandum of understanding between Egerton University and the AgCenter to implement programs that address challenges facing small-scale, limited-resource farmers in Kenya under the 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agriculture Service Scientific Cooperation Research Program.

While in Louisiana, the pair attended a horticulture field day at the AgCenter Hammond Research Station and visited the ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston sweet potato processing plant in Delhi and the AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station in Chase.

Kibe and Mwangi also were among the 20,000 attendees at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in Orlando, Florida, Oct. 14-16, where 900 exhibitors were present from more than 60 countries.

Susan Karimiha, project coordinator in AgCenter International Programs, will travel to Kenya next semester to collect information and analyze data through surveys, focus groups and interviews related to gender challenges among small farmers in Kenya.

“This project allows us to conduct scientific research and provide agricultural extension with a leading Kenyan university,” Karimiha said. “The results of the collaboration will ultimately improve the practices of the Kenyan farmers and impact their disposable income and food security.”

Along with Karimiha, Cristina Serrano, an LSU doctoral student in agriculture and extension education, will also travel to Kenya and serve as a project contributor for gender issues in agricultural education, extension and outreach.


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Agronomy professor Anthony Kibe and senior lecturer Mariam Mwangi of Egerton University in Nakuru, Kenya, visited the Lamb Weston sweet potato processing plant in Delhi during their three-week stay in Louisiana as part of the 2016 USDA-FAS Scientific Cooperation Research Program. David Picha, training leader and director of international programs at the AgCenter, right, is working with the group to develop a program to improve economic development and poverty reduction in rural areas of the African nation. (Photo provided by Cristina Serrano, LSU AgCenter)

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Tara Smith, resident director at the LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Station in Chase, right, discussed ongoing research projects at the station with senior lecturer Mariam Mwangi and agronomy professor Anthony Kibe at Egerton University in Nakuru, Kenya, during their three-week stay in Louisiana as part of the 2016 USDA-FAS Scientific Cooperation Research Program. (Photo provided by David Picha, LSU AgCenter)

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