KEFRI Knowledge Base

KEFRI Talks Series I: Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo


The first KEFRI talk series was conducted in 21st july 2023 in Boardroom. The presenter was Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo (KEFRI Director).Dr Nyambati who was a session chair welcomed all internal and external participants for the talk.The meeting was a hybrid of virtual with 63 participants and physical with 16 participants from KEFRI, Forest Society of Kenya (FSK), Japan and others.

Opening Remarks by Dr. Jane Njuguna SDDR&D

Dr. Njuguna acknowledge all participants who participated in Director’s talk. She mentioned that retirement is a blessing from God and emphasized that there is a time for everything under the sun. She mentioned on the importance of nurturing family, being religious and a researcher.

Introduction of the Speaker by Dr. Jackson Mulatya

Dr.Mulatya introduced the speaker by reading through the profile and invited Dr Cheboiwo to make his presentation. The directors profile is available here: Profile Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo.pdf

Presentation title: Experience and take home of retiring KEFRI scientists on 21st July 2023

Dr Cheboiwo was born in 20/08/1958 in Chebororwa location, Elgeiyo Marakwet County.


Dr Cheboiwo was employed in 1985 as an assistant conservator in forestry department where they were 3 staff in the unit. He worked shortly and moved to KARI as a researcher in Forestry department.

Initiated the idea of having staff study in socio-economic policy and governance research that has grown from1 scientist in 1988 to currently 18 scientists.

He rapidly transformed from science to managerial positions earlier in his career socioeconomics (1986-1991),Centre Manager Kitui (1991-1997), Regional Director drylands (1997-1999), RVERP 20-03-2014) DDSPG (2014-2019) and director (2019-2023)

  • Introduction of non-technical / non-core forestry research areas: passion, visioning, focus , lobbying and resilience
  • Corruption and malpractices’: zero tolerance, mentorship, integrity, accountability, transparency, prudence, professionalism, selflessness, simplicity and leadership.
  • Funding; cost cutting and prioritization , rescheduling and lobbying and bargains
  • Political interference: minimize interactions with politics and politicians.
  • Grounding of dryland forestry research programme: skeptics, funding, ideas,experience and scientists
  • Family matters: incapacitation of my wife in 2017; reengineering my daily diary and time to address new tasks and continue with my duties in the institute.
  • Self-discipline, hard work, commitment, selfless, servant leadership, integrity, and strategic vision requires lots of time and sacrifices but opens vast opportunities.
  • To surmount work place challenges requires long hours and multitasking capacity to steer the Institute, partners, staff and stakeholders, family, social capital and side hustling businesses
  • Multitasking and split time for 3 pillars of personal professionalism, family, societal expectation and personal wealth with equal energy and passion
  • Plan and invest heavily in your family and children for brighter happy retirement.
  • Servant leadership integrity and simplicity create confidence and good working relations staff, partners and stakeholders
  • Chart your career niche, non-corrupt and value for money personality has earned me equal number of enemies and friends but don’t have any regrets and retire with my head above and high spirits
  • Single Vs Duality personality: Many people known me as a hardworking and prominent farmer not as imminent scientists and let along Director KEFRI.
  • I live simple life and humble dwelling many are perplexed and confused few times seeing Prado drop me. My butcher for 30 years knew me to be Directors 3 month ago after viewing me speak in TV
  • Establishment and growth of SPG
  • Dryland forestry research
  • Establishment of seed orchards and seed stands in RVERP
  • Annual Markets, marketing and trade studies
  • Introduction of Indian sandalwood to Kenya
  • Bringing 27th IUFRO 2029 to Kenya
  • Restructuring of KEFRI enterprise to mainstreaming into KEFRI operations
  • Holding of 1st Kenya Commercial Conference and innovation 2021
  • Establishment of KEFRI Research Graduate School
  • Acquisition of titles for 4 pieces of land in Kitui including 1050 hectares
  • Good foundation for two formidable research hubs Kitui and Londiani
  • Lobbying for funding of the seed centres progressing well
  • KEFRI Special Award for Senior Scientists for publications and productivity 2016-2017
  • KEFRI Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Performance Nationally for 2011-2012 on Integrity, Efficiency, Punctuality, Transparency, and Hard work
  • Most published science Manager/CEO in the Institute
  • Leader of 8 KEFRI Task Forces, part time lecturer, examiner, consultant and supervisor MSc and PhD
  • Staff employment 270, ERP, Data Centre, Securing assets byfencing, 400 Ha UON land Kibwezi etc
  • Science manager career mostly in visioning, ideas creation, directing, mentoring and supervisory:
  • Founder of new careers in non-core forestry areas of economics, policy, legislation, socioeconomics, PPP, markets and marketing, regional trade studies and farm forestry.
  • Build expertise and careers in cost benefits analysis, forest ecosystem valuations, markets and trade and forestry policy and legislation analysis.
  • Leadership in dryland forestry research development over 20 water harvesting technologies, 88 species and provenance trials and promotion of tree planting in ASALs.
  • Most extensive dryland research in the country, regional and the world –Book in final stages of editorial.
  • Current focus in the greening of ASALs: Indian sandalwood, Tarmarinds, Moringa among others to create basket of choices for investors I am excited about as I retire.
  • Strong leadership, integrity and strong family are the foundation of strong personalities and institutions to stand tests of time
  • Career in science is challenging need hard work, patience, endurance, resilience, professionalisms, integrity and God in combinations
  • Be conscious on the socioeconomic, political, legal and global dynamics
  • Those who are in early careers and late careers have some lessons to pick from my career and experiences in planning and professionalism
  • Have balanced work, family and honest wealth creation for future leadership
  • Avoid many career traps of quick riches, short cuts, pettiness, undermining authority, jealousness, corruption, negative energy etc.
  • Had long professionally and self-fulfilling career in research and development
  • I made tremendous contributions to Institute, society, country, continental and the world
  • To retire in career farming, writing and teaching and mentoring students
  • I thank all of you for your attention and the opportunity to share may experience and hope it will inspire some of you
The attachment included;

Ditectors Talk programme-20230720.docx

Dr Cheboiwo Presentation Retiring Scientists 26th May 2023.pptx

Profile Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo.pdf

KEFRI Talks Series Physical Attendance.pdf

Directors Talk Virtual Attendance.pdf

-- VictorKamau - 26 Jul 2023

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