Scholar in Japan to Hone Mariculture Skills

AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project is a Joint Initiative involving JKUAT, PAUSTI and JICA.  In line with one of the project’s goals, to develop human resource for industry development in the area of Science, Technology and Innovation, the project undertakes long term training for JKUAT staff in Japanese universities, through the JICA long term PhD fellowships. The project was a response to the recognition that scientific and technological knowledge was crucial to socio-economic transformation of African economies.

Ms. Sachiko Oda, the Project Coordinator, AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project, had a chat with Mr. Robert Nesta Kagali, a beneficiary of JICA long term training in Japan in the field of Fisheries and Environmental Sciences, on his experiences in Japan and the progress towards his PhD work in Nagasaki University.

Prize presentation by Prof. Elizabeth Walsh the Chairperson of the XV Rotifera symposium held at University of Texas, El Paso, USA.

Ms. Oda: What motivated you to study a PhD? 

Mr. Nesta: The desire to enrich my research skills and enhance my knowledge in the field of Fisheries and Environmental Sciences. Also, being a lecturer, having a PhD gives me a greater opportunity of progressing in my career and acquiring the necessary skills for service delivery.

Why did you decide to apply for PhD program in Japan?

Japan has a rich fishing culture and is the third leading producer of aquatic products in the world. Also, key environmental treaties have been spearheaded in Japan; starting with Kyoto protocol in 1992 which revolutionized the way the world thinks about the environment. With the above issues, coupled with the technological advancement in research, the decision for joining a PhD program in Japan was very easy.

How do you find studying in Nagasaki University? How is it different from studying in Kenya? (In terms of school environment, teaching method, etc.)

Nagasaki is a key port in Japan with a diverse populace. The high number of foreigners makes settling in Nagasaki city very seamless. Nagasaki University is the second leading university in Fisheries in Japan, therefore, we are exposed to top notch researches. The teaching method is student centered and a lot of effort is put to support the student realize their study objectives. Constant interaction with the professors and availability of research inputs makes it stand out.

What is your research on? How is the progress?

My research is on improving culture stability and variability of zooplankton culture using bacteria. Mariculture (culture of marine fish) is a new concept in most East African countries and zooplanktons plays a major role as initial feeds for larvae of the marine fish larvae and juveniles. Lowering the cost of production of these planktons will result in a quicker adoption of this technologies in emerging markets including Kenya. I am in my final year of study and I have published two papers in leading journals in aquaculture. I have also attended over five International conferences with the last being in University of Texas, USA in June 2018 where I was given a Springer award as the best upcoming scientist (International Rotifera XV Symposium)

Rotifer (Brachionus rotundiformis) and mass culture experimental set-up at the aquaculture biology laboratory at Nagasaki University.

What is your goal after completing your PHD program?

I plan to progress with further research with the same theme as my PhD research. Given that Mariculture is still at below one percent of our total aquaculture production in Kenya, I believe I can play a major role in helping increase the percentage production through imparting knowledge and developing new and simple technologies in this area. I also plan to advance my career as a university lecturer and researcher.