Better Globe Forestry (BGF) has for a number of years been involved in research on cloning of Melia volkensii. The company collaborates with a number of research institutes, among them the University of Ghent (Belgium), the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), and the University of Nairobi. The Flemish Government (northern part of Belgium) through its Inter-University Council funded the first research programme in 2016-17, and a follow-up is currently going on (2018-2021). BGF was instrumental in realising this cooperation.
The research programmes have two components - bio-technology (in-vitro cloning) and bio-pesticides (insecticidal properties of the tree). The programme aims at:
- Improving research infrastructure of relevant labs in the University of Nairobi,
- establishing protocols for in-vitro propagation, rooting and acclimatisation of the species,
- identification of the active components of diverse melia extracts, and
- capacity building and training.
Professors of Ghent University come regularly to Kenya, scientific staff of the Kenyan partners travel to Belgium, and several PhD and MSc students are working on different aspects of the above subjects.
It is expected that the protocols will allow BGF to engage in large-scale clonal multiplication of melia. In addition, BGF expects commercial formulations and crude extracts of melia-based bio-insecticides to be available by the end of the programme.
On a less scientific but practical level, BGF has pioneered the way in fine-tuning nursery proceedings, pruning and thinning protocols, and irrigation methods for its industrial plantations. This knowledge has been shared freely with interested partners and even published in a number of booklets (see below).
Anthony Igecha (Managing Trustee, KenGen Foundation), Jean-Paul Deprins (MD, Better Globe Forestry), Nicolas Nihon (Ambassador of Belgium to Kenya) and Clement Ng'oriareng (Head, Dryland Department, Kenya Forest Service), at the opening of the melia workshop at the University of Nairobi in August 2019.