Posted 8 September 2023
New links have been forged which will see Harper Adams University developing stronger ties with a leading Global research institute to develop high quality nutrition for the continent of Africa.
At a Global Farm Platform workshop at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Harper Adams Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Michael Lee and Director General of the ILRI, Professor Apollinaire Djikeng, signed a Memorandum of Understanding between their two institutions.
Both will now work to build a closer working relationship, developing solutions for sustainable livestock production – and emphasising the value of animal sourced foods in helping to feed Africans.
Professor Lee said: “Both Professor Djikeng and I were delighted to develop this closer working relationship, building on the applied capability and expertise our organisations have to realise major global challenges.
“In Africa, one in five people rely on livestock for their livelihoods. This makes livestock a critical resource to help communities develop more sustainable futures - especially around the scourge of malnutrition and stunting, which are a result of a lack of nutrient dense diets.
“These challenges not only harm the people they affect directly, but have been calculated to cost Africa 10% of its annual GDP.”
The Global Farm Platform, which both Harper Adams and ILRI are members of, is a collaborative network of research organisations, using the power of research farms and demonstration farm networks to realise solutions for sustainable ruminant livestock production.
Under the new agreement student and staff exchanges will be developed between Harper Adams and ILRI, and the organisations will also work together not only to address sustainable livestock challenges - but also to develop and strengthen wildlife conservation.
The work will use the Kapiti Research Station & Wildlife Conservancy, an ILRI facility which works as a functional livestock ranch but also offers research and conservancy.
Professor Lee added: “The Conservancy is a fantastic facility – examining how livestock systems can mitigate climate change, the development of new vaccines for diseases which affect both livestock and humans, and genetics research to boost heat tolerance in cattle.
“Its conservancy side means the site is a haven for wildlife – with zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and antelopes – and their predators, such as hyenas, lions, cheetahs and leopards.
“This range of activities – and species – mean that the centre will be a great resource for Harper Adams students, covering a wide range of courses - including those at our new Harper & Keele Veterinary School.”
The rest of the workshop focused on providing solutions for the seasonal feed gap where forage conservation techniques need to be developed to support and improve a value chain which will provide real solutions and opportunities for subsistence farmers across Africa.
Following his visit to Nairobi Professor Lee, along with Professor Matt Jones and Dr Joshua Onyango, from the Harper & Keele Veterinary School, visited the University of Makerere in Kampala, Uganda, where they hosted a workshop on sustainable livestock.
This visit also saw work begin to forge closer ties and collaboration with the University’s Vet School and the Harper & Keele Veterinary School.
Professor Jones added: “It was fantastic to be part of this visit to explore how the Vet School can contribute to and benefit from these excellent partnerships that will be critical to the success of our strategic theme of Sustainable Livestock Health and Welfare.
“Through Dr Onyango’s work, we are already represented within the Global Farm Platform and, through visiting and understanding the work of ILRI, it was clear how critical livestock is in communities across the world for health, nutrition, livelihoods and importantly for the empowerment of women.
“There are many parallels domestically and I got a very strong sense of shared problems and solutions irrespective of the region.
"Meeting colleagues at Makerere from the University and Vet School and those representing the profession in Uganda further cemented my belief that we have much to learn from each other.
“These meetings allowed me to explore the potential for staff and student mobility across the network that will provide ample opportunities for us to understand more fully the role vets have to play in global health and to contribute, through collaborationm in knowledge exchange and impactful research.”