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MaRCCI Set to Receive Gates Foundation US$565,026 to Promote Cassava Breeding

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has injected US$565,026 (approx UGX2.1bn) into Makerere University’s Regional Centre for Crop improvement (MaRCCI) to promote cassava breeding in addition to similar efforts in cowpea and sorghum. The funds will be channeled through the Cornell University under the next generation cassava project.

Dr. Richard Edema the Director MaRCCI confirmed this and said that the funds are part of the second phase of funding to MaRCCI from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We are putting this money into training five students; three of them are Masters Students from Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania while two of them are PhDs both from Tanzania.

These funds are in support of the MaRRCI regional training programme because we have been trying to raise funds from all corners.

Dr. Barbra Zawedde (R) leads a team from the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation on a tour of the cassava research garden at NaCCRI Namulonge

We initially got the funds from the World Bank to set up this centre at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) and admitted 45 students at Masters and PhD level, all fully funded, “he added.

He explained that the five students will be trained in collaboration with the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) Namulonge Cassava program, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria and the Ministry of Agriculture, Tanzania.

“The five students are part of the junior staff in these institutions and they are in need of further training to support their programs back home but overall, the next generation cassava program goal is to improve cassava breeding in Africa, “he said.

He observed that despite its importance in Uganda, cassava has been one of the crops that have been very difficult to breed due to a variety of problems surrounding it, noting that lately it has suffered from a lot of viruses.

Dr. Zawedde with Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Officials at NaCRRI, Namulonge

“We grow is for its root and 2/3 of the people from Northern Uganda eat it. It used to be a small crop but now it is becoming an industrial crop, a raw material for beer, on top of being a source of starch under which a starch industry can be supported, “he said.

Additionally, Dr. Edema noted that cassava can also serve as a source of starch when making chicken feeds. He emphasised that if the breeding programme can improve cassava’s starch quality and protect it from viruses and diseases, then overall, its productivity can be improved.

He stated that cassava can thrive in semi-arid conditions where other crops fail, hence making it an important crop in which money can be invested.

For that reason therefore, Edema stated that through the next generation cassava project, scientists are helping to build human capacity that will trickle down to improvement in the three countries of Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria.

A field staff inspects his crop in a cassava research garden. Courtesy photo

“We did this before, where nine students from the same countries trained, and this is additional money to the centre of excellence to continue doing the same work.

We are proud that many of these students would go to Europe for their PhDs but this funding means that Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Cornell University recognise the quality of education that comes from the Makerere University graduate program, mostly from the Master of Science in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems and the PhD in Plant Breeding and Bio-technology, “he said.

He applauded the Gates Foundation for the funds extended to MaRCCI saying it will make Makerere contribute towards the development of Cassava improvement in Africa.

The support, he revealed, is part of the total funding to Cornell University amounting to about US$35m, with Tanzania being a new entrant. The original institutions were Cornell University, Makerere University, NaCRRI and National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike, Nigeria.

Harvest cassava tubers. MaRCCI research will improve starch quality and resistance to cassava viruses. Courtesy photo

“This funding has been supporting infrastructure, research and training. We are therefore very proud that they are recognizing the quality of our education. However, despite the importance of cassava for food security on the African continent, it has received relatively little research and development attention compared to other staples such as wheat, rice and maize. The key to unlocking the full potential of cassava lies largely in bringing cassava breeding into the 21st century, “explained Edema.

According to him, ensuring the future of cassava breeding will require training young scientists to excel. “We are proud of NextGen’s new graduates and we are excited to see their contributions to research in the years to come, “he added.

Brief about cassava

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), a major staple crop, is the main source of calories for 500 million people across the globe. No other continent depends on cassava to feed as many people as does Africa. Cassava is indispensable to food security in Africa. It is a widely preferred and consumed staple, as well as a hardy crop that can be stored in the ground as a fall-back source of food that can save lives in times of famine.

Story compiled by Agnes Nankebe Nantambi,
For Communication Office, CAES

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Engineering, Art & Tech

A Successful Ph.D. Defense by Vianney Andrew Yiga

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The CEDAT community is proud to share our congratulations to Vianney Andrew Yiga following his successful Ph.D. defense that happened yesterday Monday 3rd October 2022 at the College of Engineering, Design, Art, and Technology (CEDAT).

His Thesis was titled; Thermal Stability of Fiber- Reinforced Polylactic Acid Composites for Flameretarded Applications.

The candidate was supervised by Eng. Dr. Michael Lubwama and Eng. Dr. Peter W. Olupot both from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, at CEDAT.

Dr. John Wasswa, Department of Chemistry, College of Natural Sciences (CONAS), Makerere University was the opponent that interrogated the candidate to enable a clear understanding of the study.

Click here for more details

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Makerere University Launches National Parenting Draft Manual

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The Director of Culture at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Ms. Juliana Naumo Akoryo (Centre) and Dr. Godfrey Siu, the Principal Investigator from Mak-CHDC (Right) interact with a participant at the workshop on 22nd July 2022, Kampala.

By Agnes Namaganda

On July 22nd 2022, Makerere UniversityChild Health and Development Centre (MakCHDC) launched a draft manual for the National Parenting Standards. The Centre has been working together with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) with funding from UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund), to develop standards that are agreeable to all organisations in the country that are involved in parenting work. The draft manual was being presented to members of a consortium that brings together all these organisations together, called the Parenting Agenda Consortium.

“We produce many documents and they are shelved,” Irene Ayot Chono, who was speaking on behalf of UNICEF said. “We hope that this document will not be one of them,” she emphasized.

Irene Ayot Chono-UNICEF, urging participants to utilize the manual once it is complete.
Irene Ayot Chono-UNICEF, urging participants to utilize the manual once it is complete.

Dr. Godfrey Siu, the Principal Investigator from Mak-CHDC who presented the draft manual to participants, emphasized that if any organization is doing parenting work, there should be a minimum package that they should offer.

Draft Manual Content

The manual which will have several modules. These modules will be delivered face-to-face in 1.5 hour sessions. Some of these include; Module 6 which will focus on “understanding responsible masculinity and fatherhood” and on “understanding the concept of head of family.”The draft manual also proposed that Module 11 focuses on Parenting in the 21st Century. Some of the sessions in this module will include Children and Technology, Contemporary Influence on Children and Modernity, Culture and Morality.Module 9 will focus on Parenting for Adolescents and some of the suggested sessions within this module are Needs for Adolescents and The Art of Communicating with Adolescents. Module 5 will focus on Preventing Violent Parenting and Promoting Alternative Discipline Strategies while Module 10 will be about Parenting to Address the Mental Health for Children and Adults.

Dr. Godfrey Siu, the Principal Investigator from Mak-CHDC presenting the contents of the National Parenting Standards Draft Manual.
Dr. Godfrey Siu, the Principal Investigator from Mak-CHDC presenting the contents of the National Parenting Standards Draft Manual.

Participants’ suggestions

After the presentation, participants raised several suggestions for discussion and consideration. These included whether there should be a module on spirituality since Uganda is a strongly religious nation. There was also the concern of how children in remand homes should be parented. Another concern raised by a participant was as to whether teachers who make an undeniable contribution to parenting, should be taken through the parenting manual.

A participant gives her input at the National Parenting Standards Draft Manual launch.
A participant gives her input at the National Parenting Standards Draft Manual launch.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Juliana Naumo Akoryo, the Director of Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) said that the manual is for the parenting organisations to utilize and not for MGLSD.

The Director of Culture at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Ms. Juliana Naumo Akoryo making closing remarks at the workshop.
The Director of Culture at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Ms. Juliana Naumo Akoryo making closing remarks at the workshop.

Ms. Chono also adjured the team behind the manual to use picture illustrations in the manual that can be relatable by the Ugandan parents.

Contact: Agnes Namaganda – agnesvioletnamaganda@gmail.com

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Launch of Mak-RIF Round 4 Awards & PhD Call for Proposals

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Mak-RIF 4 Awards and PhD Call For Proposals, 29th September 2022, 9:00 to 10:00 AM EAT.

Makerere University received funding from the Government of the Republic of Uganda, earmarked to support high impact Research and Innovations. This unique initiative arose after engagements between the top University Management and the Government of Uganda. This fund illustrates the increasing importance that the Government attaches to Research and Innovation as a driver of development and transformation. The objective of the fund is to increase the local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Uganda’s development agenda. 

In the Financial years 2019/2020, 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Mak-RIF has funded implementation of over 750 multidisciplinary research and innovations within the various Colleges, while engaging multiple stakeholders within and outside Makerere University. The Grants Management Committee (GMC) has finalized the award process for the Mak-RIF round 4 call for funding for this Financial Year 2022/2023.

The Grants Management Committee (GMC) hereby invites you to the Launch of the Mak-RIF Round 4 awards and PhD Call for Proposals scheduled to take place tomorrow Thursday 29th September 2022 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. EAT. 

Please use the following details to join the launch.

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwpcu-urDIjE9ZgxdsbEmA2IkNMMiJVECt_ 
Meeting ID: 884 5662 9992
Password: 292624

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