The East AfricanRhizobium MIRCEN; A framework for promoting regionally co-ordinated biological nitrogen fixation
Imbamba, S K
Keya, S O
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The Nairobi MIRCEN, which addresses itself to N2-fixation by legume-rhizobia systems, was established in 1977 in the Departments of Soil Science and Botany of the University of Nairobi as one of the first four MIRCENs. The centre embraces Eastern Africa region. The countries served include Uganda, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Ethiopia and Kenya. Its broad responsibilities include collection, identification, maintenance, testing and distribution of rhizobia cultures compatible with leguminous crops of the region. Additionally, the centre provides training facilities for scientific personnel and extention workers, and its also disseminates information onRhizobium technology. The centre maintains liaison with appropriate microbiologists, agronomists and institutions within and outside the region. The population of Eastern Africa is increasing rapidly at the rate of 3% per annum while growth in agricultural output continues to lag behind at 1.5% per annum. Grain legumes (beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas) play an important role in the diet of the people, yet the agronomic yields of these legumes are markedly low due to poor practices. The Nairobi MIRCEN has since its inception employed an interdisciplinary approach in tackling the problems of increased legume production. The University staff (agronomists, microbiologists, physiologists, pathologists, soil scientists) who themselves are associated with specific research programmes (e. g. cowpea improvement programme, pigeon pea, MIRCEN) work very closely. This paper reports on some of the achievements of the Nairobi MIRCEN on (a) production and distribution ofRhizobium inoculants (b) research activities on legume-rhizobia symbiosis and other N2-fixing organisms (c) training of scientific personnel (d) dissemination of information and (e) fostering regional and international co-operation.