By Brian Donnelly

UNIVERSITY of West of Scotland has secured funding for a pioneering partnership project in Africa.

It is claimed that the UWS, Mount Kenya University and Kenya-based agricultural consultancy firm Farmtrack link-up is Scotland’s first African knowledge transfer partnership.

The partnerships link businesses to academic partners to drive innovation through collaboration, bring about change and embed new knowledge, skills and capability.

Projects address a specific business need, which is identified by the company.

The programme, which is overseen by the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK, was extended this year to include a number of African partnerships.

The UWS collaboration with Farmtrack is among the first projects in the UK to be funded, and the first in Scotland, with an award of £199,000 from Innovate UK and the Department for International Development.

UWS academics, led by Professor John Struthers, economist and director of the university’s centre for African research on enterprise and economic development, will work with scientists from Mount Kenya University and Nairobi-based Farmtrack to develop an environmentally friendly fruit fly trap which targets females of the species, using locally available raw materials.

Mr Struthers said: “At present, farmers in Kenya face many barriers when it comes to trade with certain countries, specifically in the EU, so we hope that this new environmentally friendly technology will open up doors for Kenya’s agriculture sector. The Farmtrack project has huge potential to increase farmers’ outputs and to boost the Kenyan economy.”

Currently there is no commercially available and environmentally friendly approach to female fruit fly management. The proposed approach will reduce the need for chemical pesticides’ current reliance on imported raw materials, safeguarding supplies, human, animal and environmental health.