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Three African universities partner to research on food and nutrition

Monday, June 16, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY PATRICK AMUNAVI

A regional inter-university initiative that seeks to boost training and research in Eastern and Southern Africa has been launched at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology.

Partnership to Strengthen University Food and Nutrition Sciences, which is supported by the ACP-EU EDULINK II, brings together Makerere University (Uganda), Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and JKUAT as it seeks to enhance the universities’ capacity to address malnutrition in Africa.

Malnutrition has been attributed to inadequate food, insufficient levels of essential nutrients in staples, and lack of nutritional knowledge.

PASUFONS project coordinator Prof John Muyonga from Makerere University said: “high post-harvest losses, low produce quality and dismal value addition have for a long time limited the benefits derived from food production in Africa.”

He said the overall project objective is “to enhance the contribution of higher education institutions to food and nutrition security of communities in Eastern and Southern Africa.”

Muyonga said the three universities will review existing food and nutrition sciences academic programmes, develop course material, conduct short-term courses for technical and academic staff and have joint research and teaching through use of virtual teaching and learning facilities.

JKUAT vice chancellor Mabel Imbuga said PASUFONS entry has come at a time when “better strategies to improve the training in the fields of food science and nutrition are top on the agenda.”

She said "food science and nutrition are critical in growing economies and especially in societies that are still grappling with issues of malnutrition.”

The don said the initiative’s e-portal, a virtual forum for undertaking joint academic activities envisaged under PAFUSONS, will expose students to the best opportunities in the three universities.

Mabel urged university staff to take advantage of opportunities to conduct high impact joint research.