Dr S. M Kamunya / Institute Director Tea Research Founder

Dr. Samson M. Kamunya is the Institute Director, Tea Research Institute (TRI), which is one the institutes of Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Kericho, where he oversees the general administration and management of the Institute, implementing Organization’s policies, strategies and plans and developing and implementing research programmes and projects among others. He is also responsible for pursuing partnerships and collaborations between national and international organizations with similar interests in tea research, validation and commercialization of innovations and technologies bearing in mind climate change adaption and mitigation strategies as well as market dynamics at global level.

As a plant breeder, he has developed over 1000 new tea clones, which are currently in different stages of evaluation for high yields, high quality diversified novel tea products and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses (i.e. climate resilient tea cultivars). Of these tea clones, he has released, for commercial use, nine (9) high yielding tea cultivars suitable for manufacture novel specialty tea products besides the traditional black Cut, Crash and Curl (CTC) tea, for which Kenya is globally known.  He has broad range of interest on development and integration of molecular markers in marked-assisted breeding/clonal selection, diversity studies and DNA fingerprinting for protection of plant varieties aimed at accelerated development of improved and climate-compatible cultivars for sustainable agricultural productivity in Kenya in particular and Africa in general. He has over 20 years of experience in plant breeding, with emphasis in tea improvement, management and conservation.

He previously worked as Scientific Officer with the Centre for Agriculture Biosciences International (CABI), Africa Regional Office, on biocontrol of conifer aphids and integrated control of Leucaena psyllid.

He has published widely and participated in many national and international workshops and conferences. He is the Chief Editor to the Technical Advisory and Editorial Committee for the Tea Research Institute’s publications. Currently, he is the chairman, Plant Breeders Association of Kenya (PBAK) and a member to the East, Central and Southern Africa Pest Management Network. He is also a registered Trainer of Trainers with the Professional Trainers Association of Kenya (PTAK). He is a member of Horticultural Association of Kenya (HAK) as well as European Specialty Tea Association (ESTA).

He engages in mentoring students from mid-level colleges and universities besides co-supervising MSc and PhD students. He also participates in capacity building of junior, middle and senior level managers in the tea industry. In the recent past, he has presided over several graduation ceremonies of Farmers Field Schools (FFS) for Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) all of which are aimed at improved agricultural productivity and environmental conservation.