Egerton to spearhead Sh121m plant breeding and biotechnology project

Participants and members of a consortium of High Education Institutions (HEIs) in Africa, the Middle East and Europe in a discussion during the launch of BREEDTECH project. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

Egerton University is leading a consortium of higher education institutions (HEIs) from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe in a groundbreaking venture into transformative agricultural science.

The project aims to revolutionise plant breeding and biotechnology education and research across diverse landscapes.

Dubbed BREEDTECH, this project is set for a three-year tenure from 2024 to 2027.

Spearheaded by Egerton University’s Dr Miriam Charimbu and Prof Paul Kimurto, along with Dr Maurice Oyoo and Dr Mercy Wamalwa, BREEDTECH boasts a substantial project budget of €787,575 (Sh122 million), with Egerton contributing 94,712 Euros.

Dr Charimbu explains that the partnership aims to implement project activities, share results, and respond to future proposals and scientific cooperation opportunities.

Partner institutions include Laikipia University (Kenya), Haramaya University (Ethiopia), Oda Bultum University (Ethiopia), Al-Quds Open University (Palestine), An-Najah National University (Palestine), Pixel-Associazione Culturale (Italy), the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops (Serbia), Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (Italy), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden), and BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Austria) as an associate partner.

“BREEDTECH’s primary objective is to enhance capacity in plant breeding and biotechnology education and research across continents, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. The project aims to involve African and Palestinian higher education institutions in research mobility related to plant breeding and biotechnology in Europe,” says Dr Charimbu.

Structured into four main packages, BREEDTECH targets the improvement of skills and competence levels of 420 participants and beneficiaries. Activities include mobility programs for 12 students and 24 academic staff, knowledge transfer workshops for 150 students and faculty, upgrading and laboratories, and developing and reviewing 20 curricula.

The project also entails the development of 6 research projects in plant breeding and biotechnology and the establishment of 3 BREEDTECH incubators. It aims to develop a BREEDTECH Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in African and Palestinian universities with support from European HEIs.

Prof Kimurto explains that the project aims to enhance agricultural technologies for increased productivity, sustainability, and environmental safety through exchanges, skill development, and industry engagement. This ensures that the next generation of plant breeders and biotechnology professionals are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in their careers.

“To ensure broad impact, plant breeding and biotechnology incubators will promote innovation and product development to support startups and entrepreneurship, turning ideas into successful businesses,” says Prof. Kimurto.

Specific objectives include developing and implementing a harmonised curriculum in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology in consortium countries, equipping and modernising research facilities, and training graduate and postgraduate students and staff.

Other goals are mentoring young institutions of higher learning to develop and review their programs, developing innovations to mitigate the impacts of climate change through advanced plant breeding and biotechnology methods, and promoting public-private sector partnerships with HEIs.

Egerton will benefit from capacity building for students and staff, provision of research materials and equipment, and enhanced visibility through webinars, workshops, and publications.

Want to get latest farming tips and videos?
Join Us