BOKU Delegation visiting Africa

From February 17 to 23, 2019 a BOKU delegation led by Rector Hubert Hasenauer, with Professors Margit Laimer, Hans Sölkner Herwig Waidbacher, Bernhard Freyer, Andrea Muhar, Mag. Gerold Winter and Dr. Margarita Calderón-Peter, head of the center for international relations, went to Kenya and South Africa. The mission of the trip was to visit BOKU’s key partners in Africa and to promote the Austrian Africa –UNINET .

Prof. Samuel T. Kariuki and Prof. Charles M. Merimba after an interesting visit to the botanical Garden of the University of Egerton together with Prof. Margit Laimer from BOKU identified a few research topics of common interest between the University of Egerton /BOKU, such as 1) Conservation for utilization 2) Mycorrhization for ensuring food security 3) Phytosanitary quality of planting material 4) Product development from a series of woody medicinal plants of interest to East African Countries.

The visit was particularly interesting, since the commitment to continue a long lasting collaboration on perennial energy crop plants was reinforced with the dean of Moi University Prof. Ambrose Kiprop and the former Egerton alumna and BOKU PhD student Dr. Rose Ramkat Chepchirchir. Since 2015 Rose is heading the Department of Biological Sciences at Moi University.

A visit at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) led to the ICRAF Campus housing also other CGIAR institutions, so the BOKU delegation had a round-table meeting with representatives from ICRISAT (the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, with whom BOKU has a co-operation agreement), CIMMYT (the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and Bioversity international. 

Particularly interesting was the visit to the laboratory of the ECRAF Genebank for Tree Germplasm Conservation and use and the laboratory of Dendrochronology. These laboratories are part of the International Agroforestry Field Genebanks Network maintained by the World Agroforestry Centre.

At the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. after a signature ceremony to prolong the co-operation agreement for student and staff exchanges among both institutions, on Friday each BOKU delegation member had meetings with the corresponding scientists of Stellenbosch, including areas in which we already have long-lasting co-operation activities (Prof. Altus Viljoen, Dept. Plant Pathology,  Prof. Melane Vivier, Dept. of Viticulture and Oenology, Prof. Johan Burger, Prof. Gerhard Pietersen and Prof. Hano Maree), but also new areas for co-operation.