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Agriculture & Environment

REDD-EA Project Shares Successes as Research Dissemination Workshop Kicks-off



The REDD-EA project on 24th November 2020 launched a two-day National Research Dissemination Workshop to share its outputs under the theme “Forest-based emissions: Solutions for climate change mitigation, improved ecosystem health and sustainable livelihoods”. Held in Room 3.2, Central Teaching Facility 1 (CTF1), Makerere University, the workshop was officially launched by the Minister of Water and Environment, Hon. Sam Cheptoris, represented by Mrs. Mwebesa Margaret Athieno, the Ministry’s Assistant Commissioner for Forestry (Planning and Development).

REDD-EA stands for Building capacity for REDD+ in East Africa for improved ecosystem health and for sustainable livelihoods in Eastern Africa. REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, (+) plus conserving carbon stocks, sustainable forest management and enhancing carbon stocks. REDD+ which was negotiated out of concern for the rapid loss of forests globally is aimed at rewarding actions that conserve forests and contribute to social and environmental outcomes.

With the above as its basis, the REDD-EA project goal is to contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved ecosystem health for sustainable livelihoods in East Africa. The project which started in 2014 and ends in December 2020 purposed to achieve this goal by strengthening the capacity for education and research on climate change and REDD+ at Makerere and the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).

Addressing participants, the Principal Investigator (PI) REDD-EA, Prof. John Tabuti shared that the project has so far graduated 23 PhD and Masters Students, which is the largest number of graduate students of all projects funded by NORHED.

“I thank the Norwegian Government under the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) for funding REDD-EA. I also thank the Government of Uganda for creating the necessary conditions for attracting the grant that funded this project and the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) for granting our students permission to conduct research in the country,” remarked Prof. Tabuti.

He equally thanked the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for allowing the project to conduct research in protected areas under their mandate. “I thank the Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES)-Prof. Bernard Bashaasha and the entire University Management for availing us an efficient environment for the management of research projects.”

In her remarks, the Chairperson NIDIC (NORHED Institutional Development and Implementation Committee) Dr. Consolata Kabonesa noted that Norwegian Government support has enabled REDD-EA to contribute to generation of research crucial to not only economic development but also sustainable livelihoods. She paid tribute to the REDD-EA Co-PIs Prof. Douglas Sheil from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and Prof. Pius Yanda from UDSM for their contribution in ensuring that the project was a success. “The research being disseminated today will support the policy informing and implementation process not only in Uganda but also internationally.”

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha in his remarks applauded the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences (SFEGS) for creating a strong environment in which research on protecting our ecosystems has thrived. “When we take away forests, it is not only the forests that we lose but entire ecosystems that are associated with them.”

Staying with the need to conserve our forests, the Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT), Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi noted that the dissemination was timely to address emissions from forest cover loss. “Deforestation is the second largest source of emissions after the burning of fossil fuels and accounts for more than all the emissions from the transport sector.”

He nevertheless expressed hope that the capacity built by REDD-EA over the years would help to generate new knowledge on forest conservation and increase its uptake through translation into technologies, interventions and strategies.

“It is heartwarming to note that this project has built capacity of over 60 researchers in REDD+ business through academic exchange mobility to Norway and likewise Norwegian Professors visiting Makerere to supervise students.” said Prof. Buyinza. These include 12 PhDs – 8 from Makerere and 4 from UDSM and 35 MScs.

The Vice Chancellor in his address thanked the Norwegian Government for supporting research and staff development initiatives at Makerere University over the years through various programmes such as NUFU, NOMA and NORHED. He applauded Prof. Tabuti and his team for ensuring that communities that participated in the project have a deeper appreciation of the need to conserve forests as a mechanism for reducing carbon emissions.

“Uganda’s population is expected to reach 100 million by 2050 and the number of people living in urban areas is expected to hit 22 million by 2040. This unchecked rapid population growth and rural to urban migration will inevitably have a negative impact on our forests and environment in general unless we intervene with timely dissemination of the consequences” warned the Vice Chancellor.

Prof. Nawangwe concluded by thanking the Government of Uganda for supporting Makerere University to undertake research on unfunded priorities critical to national development through the Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF). He added that whereas the impact of Mak-RIF was beginning to be seen within a year, a lot of good research ideas from the immense capacity at Makerere had to be left out due limited resource envelope. The Vice Chancellor nevertheless expressed hope that outputs from projects like REDD-EA would be able to attract additional funding from the Government and support from development partners.

The keynote address at the research dissemination on “Uganda’s REDD+ Readiness Process: Achievements and Developments” was delivered by Mrs. Mwebesa Margaret Athieno. She assured her audience that Uganda meets all four requirements necessary to implement REDD+. These include a; REDD+ National Strategy or Action Plan, National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS), Safeguards and Safeguards Information System (SIS) and Forest Reference Emission Level (FREL).

Mrs. Mwebesa nevertheless pointed out that her Ministry still has work to do in terms of building in-country capacity for REDD+ requirements such as expertise for collecting and analyzing data for carbon reporting purposes among others. She also noted the need to promote Public-Private-Partnerships, particularly those that promote commodity value chains, especially since 70% of Uganda’s forest cover is under privately-owned land.

The Minister in his remarks read by Mrs. Mwebesa noted that the Ministry of Water and Environment with the support of partners intends to increase Uganda’s forest cover from the current 12% to 15% by the end of the Third National Development Plan (NDPIII) 2020/21 – 2024/25. Under Forest Investment Planning, the Minister shared that it was important for Uganda as the third largest refugee hosting country in the world to reduce carbon emissions caused by environmental degradation around settlements by investing in reforestation programmes.

He noted that Uganda has prepared two emission reduction project proposals for the Albertine and Kyoga Water Management Zones, which will be supported by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. The Minister concluded his remarks by commending the Norwegian Government for supporting the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) and other REDD+ initiatives in Uganda. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to promote programmes such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) as an incentive for communities to continue preserving indigenous tree species such as the Shea nut tree and Prunus Africana.

The Research Dissemination Workshop which was moderated by Principal Public Relations Officer, Ms. Ritah Namisango also featured breakaway sessions where students presented their research findings. The sessions were on Forest Land Use and Land Cover Change (LULCC) and On Farm Tree Planting and Climate Smart Agriculture.

Article by Public Relations Office

Agriculture & Environment

CAES Annual Report 2023



Cover page of the CAES Annual Report 2023. Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga
Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga

With utmost delight, I am honoured to present the Annual Report of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) for the year 2023. As we look back on the accomplishments and obstacles of the past year, I extend my deepest appreciation to each and every one of you who contributed to our collective achievements. It has truly been a year of fulfilment and progress. In 2023, CAES proudly celebrated the graduation of 592 students, of whom 48% were female, at the 74th Graduation Ceremony. Among them were 14 PhD, 94 MSc, 5 Post Graduate Diplomas, and 479 BSc graduates across various disciplines in agricultural and environmental sciences. My sincere congratulations to all the graduates and the dedicated staff who supported them throughout their journey.

Reflecting on the commitments made in 2022 for the year 2023, we have made substantial strides. I am pleased to report that our faculty and students successfully adapted to the blended mode of teaching and learning. We remain steadfast in our dedication to a learner-centered, practical-oriented, and gender-responsive approach, with the goal of nurturing skilled, entrepreneurial, and innovative graduates capable of addressing challenges in the Agricultural and Environmental sectors.

Furthermore, we have revised the curriculum for approximately 15 programs, enriching content to include skills relevant to entrepreneurial green economies. This underscores our commitment to fostering innovation within CAES and equipping our graduates with the tools they need to thrive in dynamic professional landscapes.

Moreover, our college continues to advance knowledge, tackle critical challenges, and make a positive impact on society. Notably, the Makerere University Regional Centre of Excellence for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) has been elevated to an “African Host Centre (AHU/C) for training high-quality PhDs in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology.” This initiative aims to address the human resource gap in highly qualified specialists in these fields across Africa, reaffirming our commitment to excellence and leadership in agricultural education and research. For the reporting year, CAES has registered several achievements as highlighted.

Teaching and Learning for improving learner experiences

The introduction and implementation of the CAES-GRADCARE Management System represents a significant milestone in our efforts to enhance graduate management processes within the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. This innovative system was meticulously crafted to streamline operations, optimize workflow, and elevate overall efficiency and effectiveness. Its primary objectives include improving supervision mechanisms, reducing lead times, and minimizing costs associated with thesis examination. Moreover, the system empowers stakeholders with invaluable data insights, facilitating informed decision-making across various levels of academic administration.

Research and Innovation for impacting society

In our relentless pursuit of ethical research practices, we are proud to announce the establishment and full operationalization of the CAES Research Ethics Committee/Institutional Review Board (CAES-REC/IRB). This critical initiative underscores our commitment to upholding the highest standards of integrity and transparency in our research endeavors. Our dedication to innovation is exemplified by the introduction of the MakSol Cooker—a solar-powered marvel poised to revolutionize cooking practices while significantly reducing carbon footprints within households. This transformative solution not only addresses environmental concerns but also promotes sustainable living on a tangible, everyday level. Furthermore, our research efforts have yielded remarkable breakthroughs in agriculture and food security. Through the development of bio-fertilizer formulations, we aim to unlock crop productivity while simultaneously addressing soil nitrogen deficiencies, thereby enhancing household food security and bolstering agricultural sustainability. In tandem with our agricultural innovations, we have successfully bred resilient Mak Soybean, Cowpea and Sorghum varieties, capable of withstanding drought, disease, pests, and climate stress while boasting shortened maturity periods. These advancements provide a vital protein source, particularly in regions prone to agricultural challenges, and enable the production of value-added products, contributing to enhanced food security and resilience, further enhancing the agricultural value chain. In our quest for sustainable agricultural practices, we have developed innovative solutions such as the Soil Test Kit, facilitating simplified soil management by offering rapid semi-quantitative evaluations of essential elements crucial for optimal plant growth. This tool empowers farmers with actionable insights to optimize crop yields and promote sustainable land stewardship. Additionally, our Hybrid Refractance Window Drying equipment represents a game-changer in post-harvest handling, ensuring consistent drying of perishable agricultural produce. By preserving the quality of fruits and vegetables, this technology enhances the value chain, thereby maximizing agricultural productivity and reducing post-harvest losses. Furthermore, our efforts extend beyond crops to encompass livestock management and nutrition. Through the development of protocols for Banana Tissue Culture and value addition to Sweet Potato-Sorghum enterprises, we aim to improve agricultural livelihoods and economic resilience among farming communities. Innovative solutions such as rearing and utilizing blue flies, maggots, and earthworms as alternative protein sources for poultry and fish feeds demonstrate our commitment to sustainable feed production. These efforts not only diversify protein sources but also promote circular economies by utilizing agricultural by-products effectively. Moreover, our research endeavors have yielded transformative solutions to combat malnutrition and poverty. The development of a livestock milk booster, derived from sugarcane industrial waste, addresses nutritional deficiencies while enhancing dairy production, thereby improving livelihoods and food security. Our commitment to research and innovation for societal impact is unwavering. From ground-breaking agricultural technologies to transformative solutions for nutrition and food safety, we remain dedicated to advancing sustainable development and improving livelihoods across communities. Through collaborative efforts and relentless innovation, we strive to create a brighter, more resilient future for all.

Knowledge transfer and Community engagement

This 2023 Annual Report highlights several impactful knowledge sharing initiatives undertaken by CAES: i) NARO-Makerere Third Joint Scientific Conference, ii) Summer School on Landscape Ecology, iii) International Collaboration in Soybean Research, iv) Policy Dialogue on Climate Science, v) Recognition at the 29th Source of the Nile National Agricultural Show, vi) Youth and Innovation Expo 2023, vii) Training Programs for Capacity Building, viii) Capacity Building in Seed and Agronomic Practices, and ix) Soybean Seed Distribution. These initiatives underscore CAES’ commitment to knowledge transfer, community engagement, and sustainable agricultural development, reflecting our dedication to fostering innovation and driving positive change in Uganda and beyond. The accomplishments detailed in this report are a testament to the unwavering dedication and collaborative efforts of our esteemed staff, students, and partners.

Throughout this reporting year, we have witnessed remarkable growth and achievement among our faculty members, with several individuals being promoted and duly recognized for their outstanding contributions.

Looking ahead, we are presented with a multitude of opportunities to further our impact and achieve even greater heights of excellence. As we embark on the next chapter of our journey, we remain steadfast in our commitment to academic excellence, research, innovation, and societal impact. In the coming year, we will continue to focus on strengthening our academic programs, fostering interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder collaboration, and expanding our innovative research initiatives to address pressing challenges in agriculture, environmental sustainability, and food security. We will also prioritize initiatives aimed at enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our college community, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued. As we navigate the path ahead, I am confident that together, we will overcome any challenges that may arise and continue to make significant contributions to the advancement of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. As Winston Churchill stated, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts”.

I invite you to explore the pages of this Annual Report to learn more about our achievements, challenges, and aspirations for the future.

Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga

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Agriculture & Environment

The Joint ClimSMART-NORHED II CSA Summer School Second Edition 2024 Kicks Off at Mak



Participants of the joint CSA-ClimSMART Summer School at Makerere University’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

By Brian Ogenrwoth

Makerere University, in collaboration with Gulu University, has inaugurated the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School. Funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, the program began with a series of theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024. This year’s event has drawn 23 postgraduate students (MSc and PhDs) from 7 countries studying at 5 African universities namely; Makerere University, Gulu University, University of Zambia, Hawassa University and University of Juba, and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). Additionally, 16 scientists and three postdoctoral researchers from the participating institutions have joined the initiative.

CAES Principal, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga addressing the participants. Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
CAES Principal, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga addressing the participants.

Prof. Jackline Bonabana, the Principal Investigator of the ClimSMART project and Co-Principal Investigator of the NORHED II CSA project who coordinated the Summer School, emphasized the comprehensive and multifaceted nature of the program. She highlighted that the sessions would cover critical topics in climate-smart agriculture, biochar, climate change, and food security. Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa, the Principal Investigator of the NORHED II CSA project, applauded the collaborative efforts of the Climsmart/NORHED II partners and delivered an engaging presentation on insect pests and their management in the context of climate change.

Prof. Jan Mulder of NMBU delivering a presentation on food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Jan Mulder of NMBU delivering a presentation on food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prof. Vegard Martinsen from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) underscored the vast research opportunities in climate-smart agriculture on the African continent. He noted the region’s unique context and the increasing impact of climate change as pivotal factors for continued need for meaningful research and empirical evidence.

Participants and scientists listening to presentation on site assessment and sampling for agriculture. Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Participants and scientists listening to presentation on site assessment and sampling for agriculture.

Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, Principal of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) at Makerere University, presented on critical thinking and officially welcomed participants, stressing the urgent need to upscale such collaborative efforts to tackle food insecurity and climate change. She affirmed that such programmes align to the Makerere University agenda and strategic direction.

Participants at MUARIK. Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Participants at MUARIK.

The sessions also featured a variety of expert presentations, including:

  • Food Security in SSA by Prof. Jan Mulder (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
  • Site Assessment and Sampling for Agriculture by Prof. Lydia Chabala (University of Zambia)
  • Aqua Crop Model for Land Management by Prof. Elijah Phiri (University of Zambia)
  • Understanding Basic Concepts in Soil Fertility by Dr. Patrick Musinguzi and Prof. Twaha Basamba Ali (Makerere University)
  • Weed Management by Dr. Sylvester Katuromunda (Makerere University)
  • Co-Composting Organic Wastes with Biochar by Prof. Fantaw Yimer (Hawassa University)
  • Socio-Economic Topics like personal branding and marketing by Prof. Basil Mugonola and Dr. Walter Odongo, climate resilience governance and management practice by Dr. Patrick Byakagaba (Makerere University), and communication and presentation skills by Mr. Edward Gita (Rural Enterprise Development Solutions). Very insightful presentations were made by the Post Doc and PhD students as well.

The practical sessions, scheduled from May 29th to June 9th, 2024, will include farmer field visits, laboratory sessions, group discussions, data analysis, and presentations at Gulu University.

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Agriculture & Environment

Eco Brixs Seeks to Collaborate with Mak in Plastics Waste Management



The CEO of Eco Brixs, Mr. Andrew Bownds (2nd R) with the Makerere University team led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (3rd R) after the meeting on 8th May 2024. Rotary Peace Centre, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Poor waste disposal remains one of the biggest challenges in Uganda pausing a number of environmental and health risks. According to the Ministry of Water and Environment, plastic waste is becoming disastrous to urban and rural areas due to poor disposal practices. All store purchases are packaged in polythene bags, and without proper disposal, plastic garbage can be seen everywhere. During the rainy season, they are washed into water channels, where they block drainage. Single-use packaging for soda, water, and other drinks results in mountains of garbage heaping up in legal and illegal dumpsites – The Independent Magazine, 30th May 2022.

As a measure to improve plastics waste management in the country, Eco Brixs has reached out to Makerere University to collaborate in addressing the challenge. On 8th May 2024, the CEO, also Co-Founder of Eco Brixs, Mr. Andrew Bownds held a meeting with Makerere University officials led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe in which they brainstormed on different areas for collaboration.

Proposed areas for collaboration

  1. Research, Eco Brixs seeks to collaborate with Makerere University in Product Testing. Eco Brixs is producing new products monthly and requires lab tests to support UNBS certification. The Company also seeks to collaborate with Makerere in Environmental Research. The Company intends to work with PhD students to complete focused research on plastic pollution and the recycling process.
  2. Internships – Eco Brixs has had 50 students complete internships and would love to grow that with Makerere.
  3. Be Makerere Official Recyclers – Eco Brixs seeks to be the recycler of Makerere University. Suggestions were made to jointly source funding to address the challenge and to set up a plastic waste collection centre at Makerere University.

During the meeting, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed the initiative and reiterated the need to include students on projects to ensure sustainability. The meeting was attended by among others the Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga; the Dean, School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Dr Revocatus Twinomuhangi; and the Manager in charge of Accounts and Reporting at Makerere University, Mr Lubowa Ssebina Gyaviira.

About Eco Brixs

Eco Brixs is a plastic recycling enterprise which uses a sustainable circular economic model to address the challenges of plastic waste and high unemployment levels in Uganda. Eco Brixs collects, recycles, and processes plastic waste into Eco Products for a ready market. Addressing plastic pollution and lifting people out of abject poverty through sustainable employment is one of the core roles of Eco Brixs. Operating since 2017, Eco Brixs has a plastic waste collection network that has seen 3,000 people delivering plastic into one of the enterprise’s 44 Buy-Back centres and engaging in earning through the recycling economy. Eco Brixs model is replicable and scalable to achieve its vision of being the Biggest Recycler in East Africa with franchises across the developing world. Eco Brixs is focused on driving green job creation through sustainable conservation.

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