A committee of the Advisory Board constituted of nine eminent scientists and business people from various institutions in and outside Africa and the US including some of eminent Private sector companies from 11th to 15th March 2019 converged at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala Uganda to assess the annual progress recorded by the Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI).
The committee which is appointed by the Vice Chancellor for a two-year term routinely sits to follow up progress with centre activities.
This year, the major advisory Board activities included; Curriculum planning/review, Informatory session and presentations on MaRCCI progress, Private sessions, Meeting with the University Management, a visit to the MaRCCI home and touring the facilities at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK).
The Centre Director Dr. Richard Edema said, in the four days, they were presenting what the centre was able to do to in one year, challenges faced and some of the issues where they needed to adjust. This was to help the Advisory Board better understand how the centre was doing and give appropriate advice.
“They have listened to our presentations in terms of what we do in training, research, staffing, financials, our level of integration and institutionalization and internal issues.
They also had an opportunity to interface with the Vice Chancellor (VC). They are happy with the progress and willing to keep going and to be associated with MaRCCI.
The Board also presented its report on MaRCCI to the VC, detailing the accomplishments strengths and some of the areas for improvement.” Explained the Centre Director, adding that:
“We are lucky to have a Board like this because we are running such a big platform which is basically selling and promoting Makerere’s visibility, adding to its core functions and vision of being research-led by increasing graduate training”.
Dr. Edema reported that there has been an increase in the number of graduate students that have gone through the Centre to date.
“We have about 171MSc and 71PhDs who have gone and are going through the precursor of MaRCCI with a big number being foreign students.
We have developed a coherent breeding program on cowpea and sorghum. It used to be on soybean. They have come to see the products we are making from cowpea and sorghum and they are doing it for free.
So, I can see that, with this Advisory Board, MaRCCI can go very far because they are even selling us abroad, getting us new partners and advising us on how to better organize ourselves.” Dr. Edema added.
The Board members also visited the MaRCCI home at MUARIK and toured the training and research facilities.
The Director disclosed that the centre was about to the upgrade the internet connectivity and purchase another server to improve on research data storage given the rising graduate enrolment and research data generated.
“With this kind of work, we gather a lot of information used to develop new varieties. These days gathering information as well as characterizing a plant and describing genes has been digitalized. With the increasing student intake there is a wealth of information and, that is why the committee members have advised us to get a bigger server for storage. ” Edema said.
While touring the university farm, Dr. Edema said the centre will soon hold a ground breaking ceremony for construction of the MaRCCI home. The University allocated two acres of land at MUARIK for this cause.
“We are in the final stages of procurement and the contracts committee is beginning evaluation of the companies. There will be a ceremony and we shall invite the VC and Management to witness another milestone for MaRCCI and this will greatly contribute to the growth of the University.” Edema noted.
Out of the total US$6Million allocation to MaRCCI, UGX2billion has been earmarked for the construction of this building. The key components of the building include staff offices, lecture rooms and complementary facilities like screen houses, seed store for experiments, storage and safety.
The Advisory Board members also visited the Post Graduate Training Facility constructed under the AfDB-HEST project where MaRCCI has furnished one of the seminar rooms for use.
“While the AfDB facilities are ready for use, we have been struggling with limited lecture facilities due to the ever increasing number of students on MaRCCI. The University Management allowed us to furnish and use them to train students.
Using our resources we bought 40 students’ chairs with flip able tables at UGX15,812,000. The reason we are doing this, is that MaRCCI is looking forward to integrating its programs with sister programs like joint taught programs, so the facility will be very useful starting next semester.” The centre Director reported.
The other centre milestone is the initiative to add value to the local crops (cowpea and sorghum) to have better market value. According to Dr. Edema, the Centre started an initiative to add value to every variety developed.
“We are working with CURAD (Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Limited) to add value for easy storage and longer life span. For the first time, we are doing that for cowpea and some products are ready for marketing. The issue is Intellectual property. If such products are marketed, there will be increased demand leading to more productivity and eventually improved livelihoods”. Dr. Edema noted.
Advisory Board members commended MaRCCI for steady progress.
“I have the great fortune to have been part of the team at the conception of the MaRCCI… I am so pleased to see MaRCCI’s growth over the last two years. I remember coming back to the original old dormitory and now I am pleased to see new buildings.
I had the opportunity to meet the Makerere Vice Chancellor, Principal CAES and some Heads of Department and I got a sense that there is great excitement and potential that MaRCCI is offering to Makerere University, to the connections with NACCRI ,NARO and all other research institutions. As advisory member, it is a great honor and, I am excited to see what comes in the future and wish MaRCCI so well”, said Dr. Craig Yencho, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Program Leader Sweet-potato and Potato Breeding and Genetics Programs – Department of Horticultural Sciences, North Carolina State University – USA.
“I am really impressed with the progress that MaRCCI has made and the way they have utilized the investment from the Uganda Government and others from partners. It is really exciting to see the growth and to see the training support to Africa and contributing to training the workforce that will contribute to agricultural production for Africa.
I would like to commend the Centre Leadership because, they are extraordinary, dedicated, very talented, and very passionate about training the next generation of Plant breeders.
And, by doing high quality scientific research, they are raising the visibility of Makerere as a university and increasing its stature at the global stage. The partners MaRCCI has entered into collaboration with are really elevated at a world level. I am particularly impressed with the partnership with NARO for being not only a resource for new genetic materials but also, a resource for students that will become a work force.
Coming to the farm, it has been exciting to see these great resources. Besides the laboratories , lecture rooms, and accommodation facilities, I see this beautiful soil with a significant number of acres and am very happy that MaRCCI and students have access to utilize it for research,” said Prof. Rita Hogan Mumm, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Report compiled by;
Principal Communication Officer, CAES
Veteran Professor changed Makerere and Higher Education
When Professor John Ssebuwufu ambled up to receive a certificate of recognition for his ‘exceptional’ contribution to higher education from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) at Makerere University (MU), he was thinking of many things, such as rewarding staff, that he could have done differently to impact university education more.
But he did what he could have done, under the circumstances.
He presided over MU (in 1993) when student enrolment was 5,000 and left in 2004 when the population was surging to more than 15,000.
He emphasised the use of information communication technologies in almost all the institutions he had been involved in and sent many academic staff on exchanges to boost research and innovation. Now, more African universities engage in ground-breaking research.
So, he proceeded to accept his recognition and make his acceptance speech, which was mostly about gratitude.
Ssebuwufu, 74, who is currently the chancellor at Kyambogo University and the vice-chancellor of the University of Kisubi, is credited for his exemplary leadership and pragmatic methods that have shaped higher education in Uganda and Africa as a whole.
Japan Africa Dream Scholarship (JADS) Program 2021/2022
The Japan Africa Dream Scholarship (JADS) Program is a capacity building project by the AfDB and Japan which was initiated in 2017 with the aim of providing two-year scholarship awards to highly achieving African graduate students to enable them to undergo post-graduate studies (i.e. a two-year Master’s degree program) in selected priority development areas on the continent and Japan. The overarching goal the AfDB and the Government of Japan seek to attain is to enhance skills and human resources development in Africa in under the Bank’s High 5s agenda (i.e. “Feed Africa”, “Light up Africa”, “Industrialize Africa”, “Integrate Africa” and “Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa”) and key Japanese development assistance initiatives. JADS core areas of study focus include energy, agriculture, health, environmental sustainability, and engineering. The program also seeks to promote inter-university collaboration and university-industry partnerships between Japan and Africa. Upon completion of their studies, the JADS scholars are expected to return to their home countries to apply and disseminate their newly acquired knowledge and skills in the public and private sectors, and contribute to national and continental socio-economic development.
About the JADS program
The JADS Program is open to applicants from AfDB member countries with relevant professional experience and a history of supporting their countries’ development efforts who are applying to a graduate degree program in energy development and related discipline. The program does not provide scholarships to any other graduate degree program.
The scholarship program provides tuition, a monthly living stipend, round-trip airfare, health insurance, and travel allowance.
Upon completion of their studies, the beneficiary scholars are expected to return to their home countries to apply and disseminate their newly acquired knowledge and skills, and contribute to the promotion of sustainable development of their countries.
Who is Eligible to Apply?
The program is open to those who have gained admission to an approved Masters degree course at a Japanese partner university. Candidates should be 35 years old or younger; in good health; with a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the energy area or related area; and have a superior academic record. Upon completion of their study programs, scholars are expected to return to their home country to contribute to its economic and social development.
- Applicant requests for information and application forms and procedures from the chosen JADS partner university. For any inquiries, please contact JADS@AFDB.ORG
- Applicant completes required documents and sends them to the university.
- University evaluates and selects applicants.
- University sends selected candidates to the AfDB.
- AfDB reviews submissions from universities, prepares and approves the final list.
- AfDB contacts selected awardees, and informs the universities.
WHS Regional Meeting Africa 2021: Finance Chairperson’s Update
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