Conference Review

Participants Reviews of the 1st Safety, Nutrition,
Agro-processing and Innovation Conference (Organized by FoSTeP-K),
held at KEFRI Headquarters, Muguga, Kenya. 29th March - 1st April 2016.

Victoria Makungu
It was a great pleasure and achievement for me to have actively participated in the planning and organization of this “First East African Food Safety, Nutrition, Agroprocessing and Innovation Conference” that turned out to be a great success! I highly cherish the invaluable mentorship opportunities we received from our Patron Hon. Prof. Ruth Oniang’o who loves the young people very much. We were accorded opportunities to “test the waters” in several ways; approach corporate stakeholders for participation, actual planning, budgeting and sourcing for services for the very first time, of course with constant consultations. “Nothing good comes on a silver platter” for sure.
Leadership skills I learnt: teamwork, decision making, program control, time management, financial management, integrity, stress management, multitasking and communication skills.
Conference knowledge acquired: how to write a paper for publishing in journals (especially the AJFAND), importance of publishing research findings, how to effectively communicate scientific knowledge to the public, conference presentation skills, importance of and how to network in the food science sector, how to mentor and be mentored among others.
Motivation: I was greatly motivated by the zeal of the young scientists- undergraduate and post graduate students who attended the conference with a lot of enthusiasm despite having classes, laboratory projects, continuous assessment tests and preparing for exams.
Humbling experience: I never met any one participant who did not enjoy the conference proceedings; they all kept requesting to come back again and did not mind staying on until the very end of daily programs.
THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER: “Get a Mentor; Have a Social Life; Publish your work”.
Finally: Looking forward to the next annual conference in March 2017. It is my desire that FoSTeP-K will grow and outlive generations.

Pius Mathi
The first East Africa food safety conference was for me the epitome of scientific application in solving food safety/security issues. Learning about aflatoxin mitigation in the country was the standout experience. We all get spiritual nourishment in Churches, but the conference gave us the scientific nourishment. I have never learnt so much in four days, I felt two feet taller on the last day of the conference. It was the real taste of a conference. Well done FoSTeP-K.

Audrey Mikhala
This was the first conference in East Africa on Food Safety, Nutrition, Agro-processing and Innovation. It was also an occasion for launching FoSTeP-K; an organization that encompasses food scientists. The official team that organized the conference was majorly comprised of the youth. This was a really big undertaking but they made us proud by proving that young people if given a chance can accomplish a lot.
The presentations were impressive and most of them touched close to home in one way or another. When one talks of aflatoxins; you think of the flour (unga) and peanuts that feature in your meals. Talk of Escherichia coli in Kachumbari (salsa) that features in one’s weekly meal. These are just the few examples of information presented at the conference, proving that the conference was indeed an important avenue to share such.
The overwhelming support from several institutions and organizations (Nestlé, NACOSTI, IUFoST, AJFAND and KEFRI) did not go unnoticed. This signified the need and importance of FoSTeP-K and the conference. FoSTeP-K has filled a niche and provided an avenue for all “food safety” issues to be discussed and disseminated.
Congratulations to the FoSTeP-K team, keep it on strong

Njeri Karanu
The FoSTeP-K Conference was a great success. I think the young people of FoSTeP-K have set the standard for many food and nutrition conferences to be held in East Africa. The discussions and presentations were top-notch. I learned so much about food and potential risks in common food items that I use, like maize flour for ugali, peanuts and street food salsa. I also learned about exciting innovations in food value addition, like an enterprise from northern Kenya making meat snacks, and influencers of cassava chips quality. Gaps in food handling and safety were highlighted, and this generated good conversations. Consumers need to be made aware of food safety issues in the country, especially aflatoxin contamination risks!
I left the conference challenged to handle food better and to be more conscious of what I eat. I look forward to more conferences like this! Bravo, FoSTeP-K team, you did Kenya proud!

Josphat Njenga
Lessons learnt “Proper Communication is key to conference success”
“Having attended several local and international conferences and workshops, this was the first time I was tasked with being the secretary in the conference organizing committee. My main role was to communicate with presenters and participants before and after the conference. I initially expected that the role would overwhelm me, but with time, I had gained experience on communication and confidence during my interactions with senior researchers and government expertise. I ended up improving my communication, event-organizing and interpersonal skills. During the presentations, the conference provided a perfect platform to learn a lot on the current research and how the food sector is addressing emerging food safety concerns. Key among the take home messages were aflatoxin control, scientific communication, novel food products, climate change, consumer studies, among others. I am looking forward to the next food conference in March, 2017”.
Josphat N Gichure is the secretary of the Food Science and Technology Platform of Kenya. He is currently pursuing PhD in Food Science and Technology at the University of Nairobi, researching on improving market competitiveness of indigenous food products.

Emily Kaveza
The first FoSTeP – K conference at Muguga Kenya was so beneficial to many and we learnt a lot. In my opinion such conferences should be held yearly for it strengthens young researchers. The presentations from researchers of different fields were of value. Personally Simion Kibitok, a student at Egerton University, in his study title, “Determination of contamination levels of local salads (kachumbari) by Salmonella and Escherichia coli” was a big lesson and a challenge for consumers of salads. Many of us have consumed these salads without considering if proper hygiene was done during preparation. But we need to find a way of controlling more risks. To close the premises will cause harm for it is a source of income to many. They are all over in towns and we seriously need to mobilize the vendors by creating awareness of food safety measures. This will reduce food borne illness that always hit several towns in Kenya.

Consolata Musita
The First East African Food Safety, Nutrition, Agro-processing and Innovation Conference was held from 29th March – 1st April, 2016 at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Muguga, Kenya. The theme of the conference: Food Safety, Nutrition, Agro-processing and Innovation for Regional Development was timely given the many food and nutrition issues affecting Africa today. I had the privilege to participate in this conference under the sponsorship of AJFAND and I must say it was an invaluable opportunity for me. I learnt a lot during both the pre-conference and the conference oral presentations and panel discussions. I was one of the presenters during the Scholarly Writing Pre-conference and this is just one opportunity that built my confidence in public speaking. A lot of information disseminated was vital in charting the course of the food industry not only in Kenya, but also globally. I was very interested with topics that touched on food contaminants (both microbial and chemical) since food safety is an area I would like to pursue academically. Besides the immense knowledge acquired I had the opportunity to network with other students and professionals. Further, the certificates of participation I got will be valuable in my academic and professional endeavors. I believe more events like this will create a platform for information and knowledge sharing that will result into empowered professionals.
Thank you AJFAND for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference. Thank you Nestlé: you did not only send your expert staff who challenged and motivated us as young and aspiring food professionals, you also ensured that our breaks were filled with fun as we enjoyed our Nescafé “ad libitum”, as Dr. George Ooko (the FoSTeP-K Chairman) would say.

Dr. George Ooko Abong’

The inaugural conference held on 31st March to 1st April 2016 in Nairobi Kenya performed above my expectations. The preceding two workshops on scholarly writing and publications, and aflatoxin management attracted young scientists who had the enthusiasm to grasp knowledge and the need to learn. On the other hand, the attendance was simply awesome, with over 250 people attending in total, including a number of young and upcoming scientists, international delegates as well as East African countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and DRC being represented. The conference presentations had great insight on issues surrounding food safety and nutrition and also provided an opportunity to officially launch the association in a traditional cake-cutting ceremony. As FoSTeP-K Chair, I will forever register our appreciation for support from Nestle Kenya Limited, National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, International Union of Food Science and Technologists, African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Kenya Bureau of Standards, National; Biosafety Authority, Kisii University, University of Nairobi and our other partners who stood by us to realize this success.