The National Research Fund (NRF) and Egerton University have partnered to establish a Safe Food Laboratory (SAF- LAB) worth 39 million shillings funded by the National Research Fund.
Principal Secretary Ministry of Education, State Department for University Education and Research Amb. Simon Nabukwesi while launching the laboratory during the 43rd graduation ceremony at Egerton university said the facility will contribute to the production of quality human and animal feeds for a healthy Nation and increased production leading to overall Economic Development.
“As a country, we need to assess whether we are progressing in research or stagnating. Investing in research and innovation is progressive. It is from the findings of research and development of new innovations that we find solutions to our problems and consequently improve the quality of our life and standards of living” said Amb. Nabukwesi.
The SAF LAB will serve as a food safety reference laboratory equipped with modern research facilities aimed at benefiting researchers countrywide. It will enhance the horticultural industry in Kenya to meet standards for the export market as farmers will be in a position to have their products tested for the detection of pesticides and herbicides in vegetables, fruits, flowers.
The Vice-Chancellor Egerton university Prof. Isaac Kibwage was pleased that NRF had chosen to collaborate with Egerton university in carrying out research that will support one of the country’s priority areas in fighting poverty, disease, and hunger thus enhancing food production in maize and beans which is widely consumed by Kenyan communities as staple foods.
He noted that aflatoxin fungi contaminate and kill the farmers’ harvest contributing to cancer thus leading to human death. Prof Kibwage said the use of natural biopesticides using medical plants such as Aloe Vera will assist in controlling cop disease, therefore, making the food produce less harmful for human consumption.
The Chief Executive Officer of National Research Fund (NRF) Dr.Jemima Onsare was pleased that Egerton university had partnered with the Technical University of Mombasa and Rongo university in the food safety research adding that NRF would continue to provide support when required and monitor the progress.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer Kenya Innovation Agency (KENIA) Dr.Tony Omwonsa encouraged farmers to plant useful crops which can be used to produce non-poisonous pesticides and enhance food production.
He said the safe food research laboratory at Egerton University will assist in producing price user-friendly pesticides which can be sold locally to farmers within the East African region without relying on European and Asian-produced pesticides.
Omwonsa encouraged the researchers to focus and produce the pesticides in large quantities that can be commercialized locally and enable Egerton university to restore its niche as an agricultural institution. Through commercialization, he noted it would be a good opportunity for the University to generate additional income.