Improving the production of subtropical crops in Kenya and Ethiopia, promoting the local consumption of mangoes and avocados and researching the pests present in the area that could someday become a threat to the Spanish plantations.
These are the goals and to help achieve them, Iñaki Hormaza and Eduardo de la Peña, researchers of the Subtropical and Mediterranean Fruit Horticulture Institute (IHSM) La Mayora, visited this summer different areas of south-western Kenya and southern Ethiopia, where there is some production of mangoes and avocados. The aim is to establish links with small producers, NGOs and international research centres, in an attempt to develop research projects to improve the production of subtropical crops in eastern Africa.
La Mayora wants to contribute to boosting the domestic consumption of these fruits, guaranteeing the countries' food security, and to reach agreements with local researchers to prevent local pests from reaching Europe.
The visit of the two researchers has been funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through an aid program for the internationalisation of research.
The fieldwork carried out by Hormaza and De la Peña during their stay in the area, which has lasted for two weeks, has allowed them to become familiar first-hand with the problems that small African producers have to face.
"In Kenya, the growing conditions and management are quite poor. Growers live in huts which lack even running water. In Ethiopia, we observed the presence of pests and diseases that are not yet in Europe," explained the research professor of La Mayora and head of the Department of Subtropical Fruit Production at the centre, Iñaki Hormaza.
According to the expert, La Mayora has been organising meetings with NGOs and researchers from both countries in order to obtain funding for a European research project for cooperation and development aid.
De la Peña, who has worked for two years in Kenya and Ethiopia, assures that in addition to helping in the training of producers, La Mayora is striving to prevent the entry of new pests, given that these are countries with great potential for the production of subtropical fruits. "It is necessary to anticipate the risk of the entry of diseases that have not yet been found in Europe," stated the researcher.