Last month, 21 students from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), who are studying for a Masters (MSc) degree in Food Security (delivered in partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences), visited Kenya to learn about food production, distribution, retailing, poverty and malnutrition in developing countries.
During their time in Kenya, they were hosted by Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
Professor Daniel Sila, head of the Department of Food Science at JKUAT, together with colleagues from the Department of Agricultural Economics, gave presentations on the work being done on food security and the introduction of new food products – including so-called orphan crops such as millet, yam, roots and tubers, which are regionally important but not traded around the world.
Students also visited the International Livestock Research Institute, where Dr Nadhem Mtimet organised a programme to show the importance of farm animals for food security in developing countries; new varieties of feedstuff; and the socioeconomic work being carried out in the beef and dairy sector in Africa.
This was followed by a visit to the World Agroforestry Centre, where Dr Stepha McMullin introduced students to the role of fruit trees and biodiversity in providing nutrition for smallholder farmers in rural areas, and showed them the work of the African Orphan Crops Consortium.
In addition, they toured an urban dairy farm; tea and coffee estates and their processing plants; local markets and supermarkets; and a fruit and vegetable company that exports to the UK.
During the five-day trip, the students also took part in fieldwork for SRUC’s Formulating Value Chains for Orphan Crops in Africa project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund.
Programme director Dr Montserrat Costa-Font said: “Overall, the week of visits gave students an excellent insight into the different dimensions of food security in Kenya, as well as the operation of value chains from farm to fork.”