Biodiversity for Development and Poverty Alleviation. That was the theme of this year’s International Day for Biodiversity which is commemorated globally on 22 May. Here in Nairobi, the day was marked at the Nairobi National Museum with a variety of exhibitions by some 15 or so organizations including the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, the National Environmental Management Authority, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the International Livestock Research Institute, the Makini School Environment Club, and the Global Invasive Species Program.
Global Invasive Species Program
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
International Livestock Research Institute
In addition to the exhibitions, there was a public discussion organized by the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR) held in the Louis Leakey Memorial Auditorium.
Hans Herren, the current president of the Millennium Institute, gave a presentation titled Multifunctionality: The Unexplored Positive Side of Agriculture which was followed by panel contributions and open debate. The highlight of the presentation was the interconnectedness of agriculture, society and the environment in a complex web that calls for a systems-thinking approach towards management and conservation of biodiversity.
At the close of his presentation, he quoted Albert Einstein who said, “You cannot solve the problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem“. It was also observed that in order to be fully effective, biodiversity conservation efforts must be backed by buy-in and policy support from governments and other policymakers.
Hans Herren giving his presentation
A new postgraduate course for agricultural scientists will be launched in 2008 in eastern Africa to help improve the way agricultural scientists communicate research information to the region’s small-scale farmers.
The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), through its Regional Agricultural Information Network (RAIN), is finalizing plans to launch a new Master of Science program in Agricultural Information and Communication Management.
The two-year program will initially be offered at Uganda’s Makerere University and Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania. Other universities that plan to launch the program are Alemaya University in Ethiopia and Kenya’s Egerton, Maseno and Moi Universities and University of Nairobi.
“Participating universities from the Eastern and Central Africa region are undertaking various procedures to roll out the programme in their respective universities in the coming academic year,” says Jacqueline Nyagahima, an Information Officer at ASARECA.
The proposed program hopes to fill a gap in most agricultural training programs in African universities, whose graduates lack adequate capacity to integrate information and communication technology in communicating agricultural knowledge.
The course is designed to produce experts in agricultural information and communication management who are competent to develop and operate agricultural information systems, carry out research on issues relating to the use of agricultural information and provide professional agricultural information support.