KENYA – The National Research Fund (NRF) in partnership with Egerton University has launched a Safe Food Laboratory (SAF-LAB) worth 39 million Kenyan shillings(USD $ 361278.37) to bolster production of quality food and economic development.

As a government mandated research and science development agency, the NRF funds research, the development of high-end human capacity and critical research infrastructure to promote knowledge production.

The SAF LAB will serve as a food safety reference laboratory equipped with modern research facilities aimed at benefiting researchers countrywide.

 It will boost 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.

“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,” expressed Amb. Simon Nabukwesi, Principal Secretary Ministry of Education.

The Vice-Chancellor Egerton university Prof. Isaac Kibwage was pleased that NRF had chosen to join hands 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 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.

She added that NRF would continue to provide support when required and monitor the progress.

On his part, the CEO Kenya Innovation Agency (KENIA), Dr. Tony Omwonsa encouraged farmers to plant beneficial crops which can be used to produce non-poisonous pesticides and augment food production.

He said the safe food research laboratory at Egerton University will aid in generating affordable 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.

Renovation of slaughter houses in Nakuru

The County Government of Nakuru has embarked on a program to renovate and modernize slaughterhouses in the region to upscale capacity and enhance food quality and safety measures.

The region has over 80 slaughterhouses where only 5 are owned and operated by the county and located within urban centers while the rest are owned and managed by businessmen and ranchers.

Chief Officer for Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Enos Amuyunzu said the move was also aimed at creating room for other essential amenities within central business districts in urban areas.

Dr Amuyunzu was speaking during an inspection tour of an upcoming Kshs.15 million(USD $138,953.22) modern slaughterhouse at Mirera in Hells Gate Ward, Naivasha sub-County.

The facility upon completion is expected to house butchers from the Naivasha slaughterhouse near Buffalo Mall.

According to the county government, over 100 heads of cattle and over 200 small animals will be slaughtered per day.

The County will also construct an auction yard in the vicinity to enhance livestock trade in the area and facilitate vaccination to eliminate diseases.

The County is also contemplating establishing a tannery under the manufacturing and food security economic agenda to enrich the livestock sector value chain.