Tree Health Unit

Tree health unit

Launched in 2022, The Tree Health Unit is equipped with the necessary instrumentation for disease indexing of bacteria, fungi, nematodes and insect pests. It also has a Post-entry Quarantine facility (PEQ) for screening of all imported tree germplasm. Our in-house and external partners demonstrate ongoing confidence in our infrastructure, and expertise, as evidenced by an increasing number of requests for our services.

What we do

Provide phytosanitary interventions to ensure safe exchange and conservation of tree germplasm

Seeds and plants harbour pathogens and pests, and germplasm exchange poses a risk of transboundary spread. To ensure safe exchange, we provide several phytosanitary intervention services:

  • Testing of the health status of germplasm following the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)'s International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) and phytosanitation.
  • Liaising with National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) to obtain import permits and phytosanitary certificates before exporting or importing germplasm.
  • Organizing inspection of field genebanks/ and regeneration fields.

Responding to emerging threats of native and non-native pest and pathogens of established forest and agroforestry trees

The threat of pest and pathogens targeting trees is a growing concern. The impact of these biotic threats can jeopardize food security, frustrate conservation efforts and drive biodiversity loss thus reducing the benefits provided by trees. We respond to these bio invasions through several intervention measures:

  • Conducting field surveys to determine the cause, and magnitude of pests of important trees
  • Undertaking surveillance and documenting tree pests and pathogens
  • Conducting pest risk analysis
  • Developing mitigation strategies
  • Identifying and analyzing gaps and developing action points within tree-based programs that would benefit from the incorporation of specific interventions to protect tree health.

Collaborate with partners to address tree pests and diseases in Africa

This is an indispensable component of our framework. We are committed to leveraging and building viable networks at national, regional and international level to address global challenges of biodiversity loss and food insecurity driven by pest and diseases. Since our inception, we have strengthened synergies with agencies such as, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Regreening Africa and others.

Capacity building

We build capacity to respond to Africa challenges related to tree pest and diseases. We achieve these through:

  • Training and nurturing young scientists to develop expertise through internship, fellowship and volunteerism
  • Building capacity of staff to attend trainings, workshops and conferences related to tree health.
  • Providing support for tree-based programs on pest management through trainings, resource materials, and other resources.

Research and publications

Our vision is to protect tree health and build the resilience of African landscapes to future threats by providing research-based knowledge. Given the existing knowledge gaps on indigenous tree pests and diseases, we are committed to providing research outputs that support tree users by providing clear information and management options for sustainability.

  • Ignazio, G., Tembo, M., & Muchugi, A. (2019) .Pests and diseases of trees in Africa: A growing continental emergency. Plants, People Planet, (2),14-28.
  • Cherotich, S., Muthamia, J., Njuguna, J., Muchugi, A., Otaye, D., Graziosi, I., & Kinyanjui, Z. (2020). Fungal microflora biodiversity of healthy and diseased Adansonia digitata and Sclerocarya birrea trees in Kenya. Topola, (205), 5-13
  • Cherotich, S., Njuguna, J., Muchugi, A., Muthamia, J., Otaye, D., Graziosi, I., & Kinyanjui, Z. (2020). Botryosphaeriaceae associated with baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) and marula (Sclerocarya birrea A. Rich.) in agroforestry systems in Kenya. African Journal of Plant Science, 14(10), 411-419
  • Karani, S., Njuguna, J., Runo, S., Muchugi, A., Machua, J., & Mwaniki, P. (2022). Molecular and morphological identification of fungi causing canker and dieback diseases on Vangueria infausta (Burch) subsp. rotundata (Robyns) and Berchemia discolor (Klotzsch) Hemsl in lower Eastern Kenya. African Journal of Biotechnology , 21(1), 6-15.
  • Kumar, P.L., Cuervo, M., Kreuze, J.F., Muller, G., Kulkarni, G., Kumari, S.G., Massart, S., Mezzalama, M., Alakonya, A., Muchugi, A., Graziosi, I., Ndjiondjop, M.N., Sharma, R., & Negawo, A.T.(2021). Phytosanitary Interventions for Safe Global Germplasm Exchange and Prevention of Transboundary Pest Spread: The Role of CGIAR Germplasm Health Units. Plants, 10:328


Documents and policies related to phytosanitary system and invasive species

Tree nursery in Kisumu , Kenya

The CIFOR-ICRAF Genebank has a global role to collect, conserve, document, characterize and distribute a diverse collection of agroforestry trees.

  • Prasad Hendre
  • Genebank Manager
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