SLU news

New network for enhanced agricultural development and food security

Published: 07 September 2018

A new network run by AgriFoSe2030 and International livestock research institute, ILRI, aims to develop a pool of policy analysts to sustainably support the development, implementation and evaluation of polices for enhanced agricultural transformation and food security in Kenya.

In Kenya and most of Africa, efforts to fight poverty, end hunger and spur economic growth inevitably revolve around the agriculture sector. There is need to support the development of institutional and human resource capacity to support Kenya’s agriculture sector with high-quality policy analyses and knowledge products in a sustainable manner to improve policy making, monitoring and evaluation and learning.  

Developing capacity for enhanced food security

AgriFoSe2030 and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are implementing an initiative to contribute to efforts to address the human resource capacity challenge. The aim of the initiative is to develop the capacity of recent PhD graduates to undertake policy relevant research and analysis and disseminate their work to the policy-making community in support of agriculture and food security in the country.

This entails implementing a blended learning approach tailored to the context of the young scientists, emphasising ‘just in time’ and ‘on the job’ learning involving mentoring, coaching, advising, and networking.

Implementing the initiative

Implementation of the initiative will involve several project components: technical workshops to enhance technical and communication skills; mentoring and coaching; online and mobile instructional materials; participation in policy dialogue and dissemination forums; and evaluation of the project in achieving learning outcomes.

The initiative will support policy makers through:

  • Preparation and dissemination of high quality policy briefs and other knowledge products
  • Facilitating dialogue in the agriculture sector
  • Conducting studies that address pertinent policy issues in the sector
  • Supporting planning and monitoring and evaluation in the sector

Participants in the network of policy analysts for enhanced agricultural development and food and nutrition security in Kenya

Dr Cecilia Moraa Onyango is a senior lecturer at the Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi. She earned her PhD from Wageningen University, the Netherlands; and both her MSc in horticulture and BSc in agriculture from the University of Nairobi. She has over 15 years of experience in a broad range of agricultural practice and related sustainable development areas which include: crop production and postharvest handling with a focus on production environment and food safety; conservation of biodiversity; eco-efficient bio-resource management; stress physiology and temperature-based modulation of plant growth and development; grading and standards; and participatory farmer and end-user technology evaluation, selection and adoption. Her expertise and experience continues to have an impact on various levels of stakeholder interests along the agriculture value chain, including policy, strategy, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and related skills transfer. She also has consultancy knowledge, skills and expertise on systems intensification and market led sustainable socio-economic development.  Dr Onyango has proven leadership and management skills and experience: She has provided leadership in executing various projects to provide information on crop production practices and food quality which include: agro-ecological intensification techniques for climate change adaptation and mitigation; and consumption trends and the safety of foods sold and consumed in Kenya and the Eastern Africa Region. She is a firm believer in bringing about development approach to ecosystem health and sustainability. She believes that there is a strong link between soil health, crop production environment and practices, and the quality and safety of the harvested product, which product is ultimately consumed for nourishment to achieve food and nutrition security and ultimately a sustainably improved quality of health and life.

Dasel Wambua Mulwa Kaindi is a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya. He has a Masters and PhD degree in Applied Human Nutrition (University of Nairobi). His research interests are Human nutrition, Food safety and Food security. His research emphasis has been focused on Arid and Semi -Arid lands of Northern Kenya specifically on safety, value addition and microbiological quality of camel milk with the main goal of building resilience among pastoralists. In his current project he is testing the application of new starter cultures for improving the quality of traditional fermented dairy products. He also participates in the Ministry of Health Capacity Technical working group with the mandate of assessing nutrition and health capacity gaps of county governments.

Eunice Githae is a senior lecturer at Chuka University, Kenya and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. She has acted as the Director of Research and Extension on several occasions. She believes in strong participation of multiple stakeholders at all levels to strengthen dryland ecosystem services and improve rural livelihoods. She holds a PhD in dryland resource management, an MSc in economic botany and a BSc in biological sciences, all from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. To enhance her knowledge and skills in dryland management, Dr Githae pursued a postgraduate diploma in environmental management from the Open University, England, under the Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship Programme. She has been a visiting fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in South Africa where she carried out a research project on the impacts of invasive cactus on rural livelihoods in the drylands of Kenya. Before joining Chuka University, Dr Githae worked as a research assistant at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), under the European Union (EU) funded projects on sustainable agroforestry systems and innovative management of Acacia senegal trees to improve resource productivity and gum-arabic production in sub-Saharan Africa. She has been trained in several areas including climate change adaptation, food security and natural resource management, environmental monitoring and protection and translating science into policy and practice. She has published several papers and is a member of the British Ecological Society (BES) and the Ecological Society of Eastern Africa (ESEA). She has won several awards and fellowships, including the Early Career Fellowship Post-Masters Award by the Future Agricultures Consortium, the Women in Science Award (5th position) by CTA/FARA/AGRA/RUFORUM and the Abdou-Salam Quëdraogo Fellowship by Bioversity International.

Dr. Geraldine Matolla is a senior lecturer at the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Eldoret, Kenya. She holds of a PhD in fish parasitology from University of Eldoret, an MSc in Aquaculture from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada and a BSc in Wildlife Management from Moi University, Kenya. She has conducted extensive research and farmer outreach under various projects including Pond Dynamics/Aquaculture Collaborative research Support Program (PD/A CRSP) funded by USAID, National Commission on Science, Technology & and Innovation (NACOSTI), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Lake Victoria Environmental & Management Programme (LVEMP). Before joining the University of Eldoret, Dr Matolla worked at Moi University and the State Department of Fisheries. She has also been involved in research on gender issues in the fisheries sector and is the acting director in the gender equity and diversity docket at the University of Eldoret. Having recently completed a scholar exchange programmes with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Gothenburg University in Sweden, Dr. Matolla is currently involved in writing success stories and carrying out a pilot project for sustainable aquaculture in Kenya under the auspices of AgriFoSe2030.

Dr Godwin Macharia is the Centre Director of the Food Crops Research Institute, Njoro, an affiliate to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). He is also the lead plant breeder with the national wheat improvement program hosted by the Centre. He obtained his doctorate in plant breeding and molecular genetics from the University of Minnesota, USA, and an MSc in plant breeding and a BSc in Agriculture from Egerton and University of Nairobi respectively. His wheat research experience spans over 15 years, largely in wheat variety development, seed systems and dissemination to farmers. Beyond his administrative duties, Dr Macharia’s current research interests include wheat host genes discovery and deployment using tools in biotechnology as envisaged through initiatives such as Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW) underway at KALRO, and identification and development of biofortified varieties targeted to specific consumer groups. He has also involved himself in championing gender responsive wheat research for equitable outcomes to both men and women farmers across the country and is a student of policy to inform research at ILRI, Kenya. He is a dedicated mentor and has co-advised several graduate students in plant breeding and a cohort of undergraduate students and interns interested in crop improvement. He is widely published in the field of wheat breeding and has contributed to several book chapters with respect to the crop’s research in the country. For his contribution to the global wheat research agenda, Dr Macharia was recently honored with the international gene stewardship award of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative.

Jacqueline Kariithi is an environmental scientist who is passionate about conservation, tourism and development issues. She has had a keen interest in the Mount Elgon ecosystem since her days as a masters’ student, and has consistently worked towards developing a holistic understanding of the area. Furthermore, her research and advocacy interests emphasize integrating the human dimensions of conservation to the current body of knowledge and intellectual debates. After being awarded the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) fellowship in 2014, she became interested in the intersection of protected areas, tourism and community resource management with agriculture. She completed her PhD in Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her doctoral degree thesis topic was Responsible Tourism in the Mount Elgon Region; the complexities in conservation and development in protected areas became evident during her research. Previously, Dr Kariithi was a lecturer in Environmental Studies at Kenyatta University having acquired a foundation in a BSc Environmental Sciences at University of East Anglia and a Masters in Business Strategy and Environmental Management at University of Bradford, United Kingdom. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, USA. One of the key questions to emerge from her postdoctoral work is how to sustainably manage the competing interests of communities with variable ethno-cultural compositions, different livelihood activities, limited access or ownership of natural resources. This research may help us understand which strategies to develop for reconciling livelihood patterns such as agriculture, tourism and forestry in protected area landscapes.

Jane Mutheu Mutune is a lecturer at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies of the University of Nairobi. Before joining the University of Nairobi Dr. Mutune served as an agricultural officer in the then Koibatek District, Kenya. She holds a PhD in environmental governance and management and has also trained in areas of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Masters of Science in Agricultural Economics. She has been involved in collaborative research that involved transformation of forest ecosystems through participatory governance which contributed to community empowerment, sustainable livelihoods and cultures of peace. During her PhD research, she conducted a study on participatory governance, rural livelihoods and impact evaluations. Dr Mutune has published widely in the areas of participatory governance and rural livelihoods. She has been a postdoctoral Fellow at Lund University in the Agriculture for Food Security 2030 (AgriFoSe2030) program. She is currently involved in policy relevant research and dissemination to the policy-making community in support of agriculture and food security in Kenya under AgriFoSe2030. She is also involved in curriculum development and graduate student mentoring under the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship program.

Charles Recha is a climatologist with research interests in droughts, climate change perception, drivers of rainfall variability in Eastern Africa and soil water conservation. He is the current Chair and a lecturer in the Department of Geography, Egerton University in Njoro, Kenya. Before joining Egerton University in 2011, Recha had worked as an Assistant Lecturer at Chuka University (2010-2011). Recha has received research awards in the recent past; these include a C.V. Raman Visiting Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India (March to June 2018), an Australia Africa Award Fellow (2014-2015) and a doctoral fellow with the Africa Climate Change Fellowship Programme (ACCFP) (2009/2010). Since graduating with a PhD in 2013, Recha has supervised four postgraduate students to completion (3 PhDs, 1 master). He is a member of the Kenya Meteorological Society. He has a bias for arid and semi-arid lands. He has published been cited 129 times since 2013 (Google scholar).

Stephen Mureithi is a rangeland ecologist and soil scientist. His research focuses on the direct effects of disturbance on dryland ecosystems, their restoration, and its effect on land, livestock, wildlife and pastoral livelihoods. He is especially interested in land, soil and water management; restoration of degraded arid environments; and watershed and water resources management. Mureithi is currently serving as a researcher and lecturer at the Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology (LARMAT), University of Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a senior research at Triple L Initiative, an associate researcher, at the African Drylands Institute for Sustainability (ADIS), University of Nairobi, and currently a postdoctoral fellow at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). At LARMAT, Stephen has helped establish the Hydrology and Watershed Research Laboratory, which he is heading as the lead scientist. See more details in his resumé at

Jeremiah Mosioma Okeyo is a soil science lecturer at the Department of Land and Water management, University of Embu, Kenya. His current research focuses on application of sustainable soil, water and nutrient management practices to smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa with the aim of meeting the dual goals of enhanced crop productivity for food security and resilience to climate change. Previously, Dr Okeyo worked with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) as a scientific officer under the then Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility (TSBF) research program. He also worked in the coordination unit of the African Network for Soil Biology and Fertility (AfNet). The main objectives for AfNet were to gather evidence from long-term agricultural experiments at benchmark sites to support integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) interventions; and synthesize and share knowledge on ISFM technologies. He holds a PhD in soil science (University of Wyoming, USA), an Msc (Kenyatta University) and a Bsc (Moi University). He has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is a fellow of the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology, Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (LEAP) Award. 

Esther Kanduma is a lecturer at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Nairobi, Kenya. She is involved in research and training in areas of basic and advanced biochemistry and molecular biology. She also mentors and supervises both post and undergraduate students. Her current research includes characterization of tick vectors and tick-borne pathogens, molecular detection and epidemiology of tick-borne diseases, development of rapid diagnostic ticks and anti-tick vaccines and policy formulation and dissemination to support management and control of tick-borne diseases. Dr Kanduma has a keen interest in animal health research and translation of science into policy and practice in the agriculture sector. Her current research goal is to advance her scientific and research knowledge and skills in evidence-based research for policy development to improve animal productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Her research background is on population genetics and genetic diversity of the tick vectors which transmit economically important cattle diseases in Kenya. She is the Vice-Chair of the Kenya Chapter of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (Ke-AWARD) and a member of the Biochemical Society of Kenya, World Association for Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP) and the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB). Before joining the University of Nairobi, Dr Kanduma taught Medical Biochemistry at Tumaini University at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC), Moshi, and Bugando University College of Health Sciences (BUCHS), Mwanza, Tanzania. 

Samuel Omondi is in the final months of completing a double degree PhD at Lund University (Sweden) and University of Nairobi (Kenya), researching on urban agriculture and urban poultry value chain. He holds master’s (agricultural and applied economics) and bachelor’s (agricultural education and extension) degrees from the University of Nairobi. He previously worked as a consultant at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT). He has served as a part-time lecturer at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology and at Machakos University, both in Kenya, teaching agricultural extension, agricultural economics, and agribusiness-related courses. He has published several scholarly papers and is a member of the International Association of Agricultural Economists. In addition, Samuel has acquired considerable knowledge and experience in qualitative methods and analysis. 


Do you want to know more about the network?

Contact: Joseph Karugia, Coordinator

Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System for Eastern and Central Africa & (ReSAKSS ECA), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya

Phone: +254 20 4223016


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