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CAES Students-Developed KeBELA BIOSENSOR To Boost Organic Farming

CAES Students led by Ambrose Kamya, a fourth year BSc. Agriculture student (Centre) exhibit the KeBELA BIOSENSOR during the Campus France Launch, 30th January 2018, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

Students from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University have come up with a user friendly and affordable technology dubbed, KeBELA BIOSENSOR to test farm produce for pesticide residues. Since access to organic agricultural market demands that produce has to be certified by an accredited certification body, KeBELA Technology is seeking to ease and quicken the process by producing an affordable and user-friendly technology, which can be employed by the certification bodies to cut down the cost of certification and hence ease access to the global organic market by farmers.

KeBELA is a handheld device that is designed to detect and quantify levels of pesticide residues in agricultural products. This innovation is led by Ambrose Kamya, a fourth year BSc. Agriculture student mentored by Prof. Fred Kabi.

This device is linked to a mobile application that automatically receives the test results using Bluetooth and centralizes all the information thereby making farmers visible in the market space as well as aiding government planning and increasing traceability for export.

The use of the mobile application linked to the gadget helps in identifying the farmer physical location by GPS coordinates. The gadget also indicates the farmers’ products tested in real time.

“We are currently working with National Organic Agriculture Movement Uganda (NOGAMU) to create a data bank of all organic farmers who can be traced by their organic produce and physical location.

 The data bank will be updated by the information collected using the gadget and a highway will be used to deliver the updates to the central location.
The exporters and importers of organic products will then be able to access or trace the farmers using the data bank to which NOGAMU will have the key,” Ambrose Kamya the student explained.

This will make it easy for the importers and exporters to access farmers without necessarily visiting their farm physically.  

“We have applied for a national patent to Uganda Registration Services bureau (URSB) and have got a file number. However, due to the high regional demand for the technology within the organic sector, we are applying to ARIPO for a regional patent but financial constraints have deterred the process, Kamya further said.
                           
Proposed design of the KeBELA BIOSENSOR

Proposed design of the KeBELA BIOSENSOR developed by Ambrose Kamya under the mentorship of Prof. Fred Kabi                                 

Kamya was one of the CAES students that exhibited during 26th Source of the Nile Agricultural Show and Trade Fair held from 13th to 22nd July, 2018. The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja hailed Kamya for the technology and expressed interest to visit the CAES and interact with the students about the future of KeBELA BIOSENSOR.

Why KeBELA BIOSENSOR?

The certification process for organic farmers is expensive. This is partly because the current technologies used for testing farm produce for pesticide residues are not only sophisticated but time consuming. This has scared away many potential organic farmers from seeking certification services even when they follow ecological farming principles.

Such farmers who would be candidates for certification recruitment end up selling their produce to the conventional market thus losing out on premium prices. Therefore, despite the increasing demand for organic agricultural produce both domestically and globally, many Ugandan farmers fail to exploit this great global market opportunity worth 80billion US dollars.

According to NOGAMU, the situation can be improved if user-friendly and affordable technologies for testing pesticide residues can be developed. Since access to organic agricultural market demands that produce has to be certified by an accredited certification body, KeBELA Technology is seeking to ease and quicken the process by producing an affordable and user-friendly technology, which can be employed by the certification bodies to cut down the cost of certification and hence ease access to the global organic market by farmers.


Report compiled by;
Jane Anyango,
Principal Communication Officer, CAES

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