Since years, Better Globe Forestry has driven research on cloning of Melia volkensii, with several research institutes, among which the University of Ghent (Belgium), Kenya Forestry Research Institute and the University of Nairobi. The Flemish Government (northern part of Belgium) through its Interuniversity Council has funded a first research programme during 2016-17, and a follow-up currently on-going (2018-2021). Better Globe Forestry was instrumental in realising this cooperation.
The programmes have two components, bio-technology (in-vitro cloning) and bio-pesticides (insecticidal properties of the tree), and aims at:

  • Improving research infrastructure of relevant labs in the University of Nairobi,
  • Establishing protocols for in-vitro propagation, rooting and acclimatization of the species,
  • Identification of the active components of diverse melia extracts,
  • capacity building & training.
Professors of Ghent University regularly come to Kenya, scientific staff of the Kenyan partners travels 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 Better Globe Forestry to engage in large-scale multiplication of melia, and commercial formulations & crude extracts of melia-based bio-insecticides, will be available by the end of the programme.

On a less scientific, but practical level, Better Globe Forestry has fine-tuned nursery proceedings, pruning and thinning protocols and irrigation methods for its industrial plantations, something in which it has pioneered the way. This knowledge has always been freely shared with interested partners and published in several booklets (see below).


The audience during a workshop of the research project, in Nairobi University.
The public announcement of the workshop in 2017.
Profs Guy Smagghe, Stefaan Werbrouck, with Dr Titus Magomere (University of Nairobi) collecting germplasm from elite melia trees in KEFRI's seed orchard in Kibwezi.
A petri-dish with root development from a melia plant, in the lab.
Victor Jaoko, PhD student, aside a poster showing his research results, during a scientific conference in Belgium.
Anthony Igecha (Managing Trustee KenGen Foundation), Jean-Paul Deprins (MD Better Globe Forestry), Nicolas Nihon (Embassador of Belgium) and Clement Ng’oriareng (Head Dryland Department Kenya Forest Service), at the opening of the Melia workshop in the University of Nairobi (August 2019).
Insect cages to study the effect of Melia extract. From left to right: Victor Jaoko (PhD student), Purity Muli (MSc student), Prof Guy Smagghe (Ghent University), Florence Olubayo (Nairobi University).