To know where you are going, it is important to understand where you have come from, goes an adage. This wisdom reflects the need to conduct regular audits of progress made in any given undertaking. Within organized projects with set objectives, targets and timelines, this exercise falls under the domain of monitoring and evaluation.
The Innovation Center for Bio-resources (ICB), a sub-taskforce of the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project has recognized the critical role played by monitoring and evaluation in project implementation. Consequently, the sub-taskforce has instituted an internal mechanism for evaluation of its activities and programmes to enhance achievement of planned results and accountability.
Set up to spearhead agricultural innovation through research, Prof. Turoop Losenge, the chairman of the iCB sub taskforce says that iCB first aligned its objectives to the overarching objectives of the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project as well as the Sustainable Development Goals and national development goals.
According to Prof. John M. Wesonga, a member of the sub-taskforce and the Director of Performance Contracting and Appraisal in the University believes that constantly monitoring its activities, is an innovation that will assist the subtask force to align its efforts towards its strategic goals as well as serve a number of purposes.
First, it allows the team to review performance for future planning and take corrective actions. Secondly, knowing what is at stake facilitates communication and knowledge driven decision making within the sub-taskforce. Finally, it forms a basis of resource allocation and prioritization of key activities to be undertaken.
Key aspects identified for monitoring include capacity building, research, innovation and dissemination of research outputs to industry. Now in its fourth year of implementation, iCB has facilitated both short and long-term training to staff, and enhanced research environment, characterized by establishment of green houses and upgrading of laboratory facilities.
The ultimate aim, Prof. Losenge avers, is to create a sustainable multidisciplinary research environment where academia and industry work synergistically. This would allow development of new products, value addition and creation of markets for arising innovations.
Prof. Losenge says the sub-taskforce has relied on a united, committed and highly qualified members who have enabled it to realize a number of outputs.
On the academia-industry collaboration front, iCB has inked a partnership with Wago, a Japanese private company in which the two institutions are working together to disseminate Japanese technologies for tomato and strawberry production to Kenyan farmers. The technologies include improved greenhouses, improved growing structures and substrates as well as new varieties of tomatoes and strawberries.
Since most people lack a proper understanding and appreciation of monitoring and evaluation, it is important that sensitization and capacity building is carried out to enhance adoption. The iCB taskforce will spearhead the process of sensitization for AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project researchers and PAUSTI students.