Icipe and French organization extend scientific partnership

Icipe's Dr. Segenet Kelemu (in white) receives the Officer of the national order of Merit, from French ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Arnaud Suquet on May 23, 2023. At the event Icipe and french group Cirad extended their partnership [Courtesy]

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) in Kenya has extended an existing memorandum of understanding (MOU) with French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (Cirad).

The MOU was signed in 2013 and is being extended for the second time for another 5-year period.

“Agriculture is an integral part of the economy in Africa as well as in France. Cirad and Icipe work together in conducting research that will impact agriculture because science knows no borders.

“Research on pests and disease is a critical element of agriculture. The cross partnership between French and African scientists is important in finding solutions that are good for the world,” Mr. Arnaud Suquet, the French ambassador to Kenya, said at an event held at Icipe’s Duduville campus on May 23, 2023.

The partnership ensures research collaboration between Icipe and Cirad scientists; where both tag-team to seek funding for projects.

“Currently we have five Cirad scientists operating from within Icipe,” noted Patrice Grimaud, Cirad’s Director for Eastern Africa.

Icipe’s Director General (DG) and CEO, Dr. Segenet Kelemu, said the partnership has contributed to the institution’s output of world-class research.

“This will bring [to Icipe] different skills; we will embed their scientists within our programs. On average, Icipe publishes about 200 papers (in high-quality journals) every year. Cirad’s scientists have contributed to these numbers,” Dr. Kelemu said.

Notably, she added, Cirad’s scientists contributed to Vegetable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) solutions that have recently been developed by Icipe and are already being used in the production of vegetables without the use of synthetic pesticides.

Cirad’s scientists at Icipe, the DG noted, are currently working on tsetse flies, and their findings will go a long way in finding solutions to the pest.

At the same event, Dr. Kelemu was awarded Officer of the national order of Merit by the French ambassador, for her work in science spanning over three decades.

“The award was created by former French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte over 300 years ago. It is given to distinguished and exceptional talents in many fields, including science,” said Mr. Suquet.

Dr. Kelemu, an Ethiopian by birth, has a Ph.D. in Molecular biology and plant pathology from the University of Kansas, in the United States of America (USA), which she attained in 1989.

She joined Cornell University (also in the USA) as a post-doctoral fellow, then moved to Colombia (South America) as a researcher for some years before coming back to Africa in 2007: to be the Director of Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa of ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute).

In 2013, she became the DG of Icipe; where she has been recognized as a pioneer in research on the potential of insects as food for both animals and humans.

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