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Nyabyeya Forestry College Hands Over 10hectares to Enhance Mak’s Practical Forestry Training

The Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (3rd L) exchanges the signed MoU with NFC Principal-Mr. Godfrey Akubonabona (4th L) as Mr. Henry Mwebe (L), Prof. Bernard Bashaasha (2nd L), Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga (2nd R), Prof. Mnason Tweheyo (3rd R) and other officials witness during the visit to NFC on 15th August 2018, Masindi Uganda

Nyabyeya Forest College (NFC) in Masindi has handed over ten (10) hectares of land to Makerere University to enhance practical forestry training. The land provided will be used for establishment of a training plantation forest which will help in enhancing practical training and research.

This follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and Nyabyeya Forestry College on 3rd July 2018.

The land was handed over by the Principal NFC Mr. Godfrey Akubonabona to the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe on his maiden visit to NFC on 15th August 2018. The MoU between CAES and NFC was operationalised on the same day.

The hand over was witnessed by NFC staff including the Deputy Principal, Mr. Kisakye  Richard, the Academic Registrar Mr.  Swaib Gwanyi, the Assistant Academic Registrar Mr.  Ambrose Ahimbisibwe and the Plantation Manager, Mr. Geofrey Sebahutu among others.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (L) hands over an assortment of Mak Souvenirs to Principal NFC Mr. Godfrey Akubonabona (R) during the visit

The Vice Chancellor  was accompanied by the Director Legal Affairs Mr. Henry Mwebe, the Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, his deputy Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga, the Dean School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences Prof. Mnason Tweheyo, Deans  and  Heads of units from CAES.

Prof. Nawangwe described Nyabyeya Forestry College as a centre of excellence in training foresters and appreciated the college for the excellent work it has been doing to train Makerere University students.

“I must commend those who have been resilient to keep this place in difficult times. I also commend the Principal Nyabyeya Forest College for the transformations during his two years in office,” Nawangwe commended.

The Vice Chancellor noted that Mak and NFC provide the biggest opportunity in the country as the only university and college training foresters.

The Professor decried the declining forest cover in the country  noting that unlike the past where permission would be sought  to even cut a tree one owned in his or her land, today cutting of trees is not regulated leading to the disappearance forestry cover.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (C) plants a tree in part of the 10hectares allocated by NFC to Mak

Citing  Kenya  as an example of an organized country where cutting  a tree for  charcoal is not allowed, Nawangwe  implored educational  institutions including Mak and NFC to take on the responsibility to ensure these standards come back.

“Government expects a lot from us the educational institutions. The most absurd thing is that someone from government should advise  Makerere what to do. We can do a lot of research and that is extremely important.

The reason forests are disappearing is that we are producing very fast. Uganda is still among the fastest growing populations in Africa and therefore we must research into alternative ways of keeping our forests,” Nawangwe said.

The Vice Chancellor emphasized the importance of more practical training and learner-centered approach in promoting entrepreneurship and churning out graduates that can compete on the world market.

He observed that with two forests at their disposal, the two institutions can work together not only to do research and promote practical training but also generate resources to supplement government efforts.

The Vice Chancellor and Members of Management inspect the NFC sawmill during a tour of the Forestry College, Masindi, Uganda

“NFC has the land and expertise. Makerere has expertise. We should identify what we can do jointly so that we are able to relieve government from the burden of paying staff salaries.

There is a shortage of avocados on the world market. Israel with its problems is the biggest exporter of avocados to Europe but they can only supply one season. This is one thing we can look at, say if we plant 100 acres, we would be the biggest suppliers in East Africa”. Nawangwe advised.

The Professor thanked NFC for the support given to Makerere over the past 40 years and advised the two institutions to take advantage of the capacity built to offer sabbaticals and staff exchanges so that the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Nawangwe further implored the two institutions to take on responsibility of advising Government on matters of policy. He noted that since the 1998 Act, everyone in the country  can do whatever they want irrespective of the repercussions.

“The Great lakes region is the worst affected. The Water war will begin from here, there is high population, climate change, all forms of degradation and we are heading for disaster.

We are the people who have the knowledge to avert these problems. You need to do research in these areas and give proper policy guidance to our government,” Nawangwe said.

L-R: Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Mr. Godfrey Akubonabona, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga and an NFC Official during a visit to the College

The Principal CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha said NFC and CAES have been enjoying an informal relationship for over 35years.  Bashaasha expressed happiness that they were at Nyabyeya to consummate the marriage.

“The collaboration has been going on not properly anchored and I am happy that this is happening .

The MoU has three critical elements; facilities, recess term and staff exchange but we are here to add another aspect of the relationship of having land,” Bashaasha reported.

Prof. Bashaasha was optimistic that with the acquisition and improvement of the existing facilities at NFC, forestry students would be able to spend more time on practical training.

“If we utilise the 10hectares of land well, we can train environmentalists and conservation managers and also make money. Environmental issues are important, climate change is here with us, when you see global patterns, that makes training in environmental conservation very important,” the CAES Principal stated.

Prof. Barnabas nawangwe (2nd R) is taken on a tour of one of the Hostel facilities

The Dean School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences Prof. Mnason Tweheyo explained that as the most needy and user unit they labored to undertake  the curriculum review to remove  redundancies and duplications and ultimately found that Nyabyeya Forest College was the most practical area for training foresters.

Prof. Tweheyo said, since 1973 NFC has been training Makerere students undertaking forestry and related programs every year during recess term including use of the college facilities, staff exchange and collaborative research.

Tweheyo said at one time both institutions benefited from NORAD support. From 1973 to 1975, NORAD supported NFC and Makerere University to establish the Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation.

“Before, we used to time when NFC students were out and would bring Makerere students here. This year 2018, more than 400 students from 1st to 4th year have passed through NFC.

NFC offered space where Makerere can build a hostel to accommodate 45 students. In addition there is land  identified next to the hostel allocated to Makerere that can be used to expand accommodation for staff and students.” The Dean said.

The Principal NFC Mr. Godfrey Akubonabona (Fore) leads Members of Management on a tour of one of the facilities at the College

Prof. Tweheyo explained that for a long time stakeholders have been complaining about forestry graduates being more theoretical than practical. He said with the acquisition of the 10 hectares of land from NFC, the university will be in position to offer the best training in Africa.

“NFC sits on a Forest reserve. Those who work in forest reserves do not get titles but certificates. So NFC gave us user rights for training students.

We thought this would be very important and we shall be able to collect data from day one when the trees are planted, conduct research as well as training,” he said.

Prof. Tweheyo said the school will not plant indigenous trees but look at different species for recommendation to the industry.

“We shall use it for demonstration whereby students visit once a month, and rely on student labour as this is important for them to gain practical skills. Mak and NFC will do research together,” the don added.

Prof. Mnason Tweheyo (L) addresses the audience at NFC during the MoU signing ceremony

“For the first 2 years, one hectare can consume 3million shillings. The next 2-6 years a hectare  will consume 2million. 6-12 years, a hectare requires 2million and from 12-18 years a hectare will consume 1 million shillings” the Dean said.

Prof. Tweheyo pledged that school had earmarked 4million Uganda Shillings to kickstart the process and called upon the college and the university to lend a helping hand to make the project a success. The Dean also underscored the role played by Budongo Conservation Forest (BCF)  in accommodating and training Makerere University staff and students although this association was yet to be formalised.

He said BCF by virtue of its being a tropical forest has attracted  researchers from across the globe. He was optimistic that the BCF would become the Biological field station for Makerere since many of her units including CAES, the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) and the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS) stand to benefit.

Members of Management tour the NFC Library facility

The Deputy Principal Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga thanked the Dean for articulating the issues affecting Forestry training. She observed that the field of forestry training has taken a turnaround, requiring modern and state-of-the-art equipment as opposed to the obsolete machines.

She also echoed the need to promote retooling of teaching staff in forestry so that what is given to students meets the current employers and stakeholders expectations.

Nabanoga proposed the need for Makerere and NFC to look at both long and quick maturing tree species so as to project the resources to be generated for the university and college. She also encouraged the two institutions to be gender sensitive during the enrolment of students and recruitment of staff in forestry.
The Deputy Principal thanked the Vice Chancellor for honouring the invitation to grace the occasion.

“We have never had the Vice Chancellor visiting this college. Pulling you out of the university Main Building to the forest is a signal that forestry training and natural resource management is dear to your heart,” Nabanoga said.

Dr. Fred Babweteera (standing) addresses Members of Management and NFC officials during their visit to the Budongo Conservation Field Station on 15th August 2018

The day’s major events included, meeting between Mak and NFC staff punctuated by brief remarks, launching the implementation of the Mak- CAES & NFC MoU, exchange of appreciation gifts, touring NFC facilities, tree planting at the allocated site to signify the handover of the land and finally the visit to Budongo Conservation Field Station.

Report Compiled by
Jane Anyango,
Principal Communication Officer, CAES

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