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Agriculture & Environment

Highlights of 16 Years of Soybean Research at Makerere University

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Sixteen years of soybean research at Makerere University have led to a rapid increase in the number of industries engaged in processing soybean in Uganda and neighbouring countries.

This report provides highlights of the contribution of rust-resistant soybean varieties to the agricultural sector in Uganda. It contains forward-looking research results based on current research findings and forecasts made by the Centre for Soybean Research and Development from 2002 to 2018.

Soybean was first introduced in Uganda way back in 1908. Its production was emphasized to combat malnutrition and to provide soldiers with highly nutritious food during the Second World War. Like most new crops, soybean was not readily accepted by the local people based on claims that it depleted soil fertility, could not be cooked like commonly known legumes, had beany flavor and lacked a readily available market.

The soybean crop was also not given consistent recognition by the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) and suffered decline in production due to a major out break of soybean rust disease in 1996.

Makerere University in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP) of the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) undertook research to control soybean rust disease and to promote and disseminate soybean seed of locally developed superior varieties.

Through efforts of the Centre for Soybean Improvement and Development (MAKCSID), the soybean rust pandemic was brought under control, through breeding and dissemination of superior varieties to the farming communities. Currently over 93% of these varieties are grown across the country.

These efforts were spearheaded by Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa from the Department of Agricultural Production.

Please see Downloads for the detailed report.

Agriculture & Environment

Mak-CAES Skills Agro-processors on Quality Standards

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Some of the trained Agro-processors with the representative of the VC, Prof. Edward Bbaale (4th L), the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga (3rd L) and the Dean, SFTNB, Dr. Julia Kigozi (4th R) at the workshop on 9th April 2024. “Empowerment of the Agro-Processing Industry to meet the Quantity and Quality for Local and Export Market (EAPI Phase II)” Mak-RIF-Funded Project dissemination of outputs and sharing insights, best practices and success stories from the trained processors and students, 9th April 2024, The Conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Overview

Agriculture has long been the backbone of Uganda’s economy, and the agro-processing industry plays a pivotal role in driving economic growth, job creation, and export earnings. Agro-processing is a key component of Uganda’s manufacturing sector accounting for almost 70% of total manufacturing output while manufacturing itself has accounted for approximately 8% of GDP over the last decade (Uganda Bureau of Statistics). However, many Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in this sector face significant challenges in meeting quality standards, accessing markets, and adopting best practices.

The Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga delivering her remarks at the workshop. “Empowerment of the Agro-Processing Industry to meet the Quantity and Quality for Local and Export Market (EAPI Phase II)” Mak-RIF-Funded Project dissemination of outputs and sharing insights, best practices and success stories from the trained processors and students, 9th April 2024, The Conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga delivering her remarks at the workshop.

Makerere University’s contribution to the development of the sector

To contribute towards the improvement of the sector in Uganda, the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering (SFTNB) at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, through a project titled; “Empowerment of the Agro-Processing Industry to meet the Quantity and Quality for Local and Export Market (EAPI Phase II)” has embarked on a transformative journey to empower agro-processors through practical skills training, mentorship, and support.

The Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training at Makerere University-Prof. Edward Bbaale (Standing), on behalf of the Vice Chancellor commended the project team for the initiative. “Empowerment of the Agro-Processing Industry to meet the Quantity and Quality for Local and Export Market (EAPI Phase II)” Mak-RIF-Funded Project dissemination of outputs and sharing insights, best practices and success stories from the trained processors and students, 9th April 2024, The Conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training at Makerere University-Prof. Edward Bbaale (Standing), on behalf of the Vice Chancellor commended the project team for the initiative.

EAPI is a multi-year project conceptualized under the guiding principles of Makerere University Strategic Plan, which emphasizes research excellence, community engagement, and innovation. It is funded by the Government of Uganda through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF). According to the project PI, Dr Julia Kigozi, achieving the country’s industrialization agenda requires interventions to enhance the capacity of agro-processors to compete in the domestic, regional and international markets. The project which is now in its second phase uses the modified Triple Helix Partnership model; The Agro-processing Pro-model in which Academia-Industry-Government interact jointly to serve the needs of the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and is coordinated by a team comprising of Academic staff at Makerere University and industry leaders from UNBS and UEPB.

The event featured a panel discussion on issues affecting the agro-processing industry. “Empowerment of the Agro-Processing Industry to meet the Quantity and Quality for Local and Export Market (EAPI Phase II)” Mak-RIF-Funded Project dissemination of outputs and sharing insights, best practices and success stories from the trained processors and students, 9th April 2024, The Conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The event featured a panel discussion on issues affecting the agro-processing industry.

The direct beneficiaries of the project are agro-processors and Makerere University students in the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio- engineering. In July 2023, the project graduated 35 students from the School, and in February 2024, Makerere University-SFTNB in partnership with UNBS, UEPB and Uganda Revenue Authority trained 22 Agro-processors to enable them develop and improve agro-manufacturing processes leading to products that meet quality standards and where possible expand their business operations to local and export markets. The processors were mainly manufacturers of juices, dairy products, spices, and pastries with facilities located in Kampala/Greater Kampala area and Wakiso, Jinja, Mpigi, Mityana, Kabaale, Gulu, and Nwoya Districts.

Dr. Leatitiah Namubiru from UNBS sensitizing participants on the process of certification. “Empowerment of the Agro-Processing Industry to meet the Quantity and Quality for Local and Export Market (EAPI Phase II)” Mak-RIF-Funded Project dissemination of outputs and sharing insights, best practices and success stories from the trained processors and students, 9th April 2024, The Conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Leatitiah Namubiru from UNBS sensitizing participants on the process of certification.

Project dissemination workshop

On 9th April 2024, the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering held a workshop to disseminate the project outputs and to share insights, best practices and success stories from the trained processors and students. The event held at Makerere University featured a panel discussion involving agro-processors as well as representatives from line departments who shared experiences and the challenges affecting the sector. Key amongst the challenges highlighted was the bureaucratic process of acquiring certification and the heavy taxes imposed on the processors.

Message from the Vice Chancellor

In his message delivered by Prof. Edward Bbaale, Director, Research and Graduate Training at Makerere University, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe commended the project team for the achievements registered. “This project epitomizes the spirit of innovation, collaboration, and excellence that defines Makerere University. It has demonstrated the power of collaboration, innovation, and community engagement in driving positive change and fostering inclusive growth. Moving forward, let us continue to harness our collective strengths and expertise to address the evolving challenges in the agro-processing sector.” The Vice Chancellor further noted that the project had exemplified the University’s commitment to student-centered learning and practical skills development. “By actively involving undergraduate students from the School of Food Technology, Nutrition, and Bio-engineering in mentorship activities, we not only enhanced their academic experience but also provided them with valuable real-world insights and opportunities for professional growth.” He appreciated the Government of Uganda for the enormous support towards research at Makerere University.

The PI, also Dean, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering at Makerere, Dr Julia Kigozi (L) together with another member of staff at the workshop. “Empowerment of the Agro-Processing Industry to meet the Quantity and Quality for Local and Export Market (EAPI Phase II)” Mak-RIF-Funded Project dissemination of outputs and sharing insights, best practices and success stories from the trained processors and students, 9th April 2024, The Conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The PI, also Dean, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering at Makerere, Dr Julia Kigozi (L) together with another member of staff at the workshop.

Addressing participants, the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga applauded the project team for the initiative, noting that the College was intentional on co-creating processes that would support the growth of the agricultural sector. “As a College, we have a role to contribute to the National Development Agenda. Much as we have done research, there is little knowledge transfer. Our goal is to link all departments to industry and to re-orient students to change their mind-set through a learner-centred approach geared towards solving specific challenges. We commit to continue providing the necessary knowledge to take agro-processors to the next level, and to engage the private sector to co-create solutions for challenges undermining development in our country.”

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Agriculture & Environment

Two Slots For Student Study Exchange Programme at University of Padova, Italy

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Makerere University Students arrive at the Bigodi Community Tourism Project Centre in Kamwenge District, adjacent to Kibaale National Park on 3rd May 2023.

Agreement Overview

An inter-institutional cooperation agreement was signed between the University of Padova, Italy and the Makerere University, Uganda, under the umbrella of the Erasmus+ mobility program. This agreement includes a bi-lateral exchange of teaching staff and students aimed at sharing knowledge and technologies, to explore the degree to which invasive alien plants are modifying the ecosystem services provided by complex agricultural and forest landscapes, using invasive trees as model species. Researchers at the University of Padova have explored the biodiversity of several ecosystem components, and related functions of woodlands composed of important alien trees (the black locust tree – Robinia pseudoacacia) in several biomes of Europe. This tree is spreading due to historical plantation and recent land use changes. The impacts brought by this tree are contrasting and not straightforward, particularly when analyzed from different perspectives. We expect that similar patterns could exist, currently or in the near future, in several regions of Uganda. The research will also investigate how changing landscapes and related ecological processes, as a result of plant invasion, affect the ecotourism opportunities and the aesthetics of tourism destinations with specific focus on Ruboni Community Camp and Rwenzori Mountains National Park. We believe that this cooperation could help in the understanding of this phenomenon and explain how different stakeholders perceive the novel values that come with invasive alien trees.

Student study exchange opportunity in Italy

The ERASMUS + International Credit Mobility Programme (KA171) will support two students for year 2024 for study exchange programme in Italy at the University of Padova, Department of Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry. The exchange programme targets Masters or PhD students in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Makerere University who have finished their first year of study for Masters or fully Registered for PhD. Prospective students must be ready to do research on topics related to the major focus of the agreement i.e. Forestry (forest soils) and Ecosystem services (agroecosystems, landscapes and tourism). They should have skills in processing of data on soil and social data analysis. Masters Students should have normal progress in their coursework. Together with University of Padova team supervised by Professor Tommaso Sitzia, successful applicants will attend term courses, attend field excursions with other students and get involved in analysis of soil samples and social data collected from Ruboni Community at the foothills of Rwenzori Mountains. The travel and stay in Italy will take a period of about 4 months.

Benefits

The exchange programme will cover travel expenses to and from Italy, living costs and accommodation while in Italy.

Expected deliverables from the student

Upon securing this opportunity, the students will be required to;

  1. Analysis of soil samples and social data (agroforestry tourism)
  2. Analysis of data collected from tourists on agroforestry landscapes in Mubuku Valley and drafting of manuscript (to be collected between May and August, 2024)
  3. Participate in term courses and excursions with Forestry Science students
  4. Attend workshops and make presentations on their research activities
  5. Any other study activities related to the research topics of the study group

Criteria

Interested candidates should submit their application to the Departmental Flow Co-ordinator, Makerere University. Include a detailed CV, testimonial showing current progress, copy of admission letter, a letter of motivation, a recommendation letter, copies of the academic documents. Applications must be submitted by 22, April, 2024 to: kamunyu.muhwezi@gmail.com, copied to deus.muhwezi@mak.ac.ug. Female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply. Only applications that include ALL the required documentation (highlighted above) will be considered. Successful applicants will be called for oral interviews. Successful applicants will be nominated to the exchange programme by the Departmental Flow Co-ordinator at Makerere University by 30th April, 2024. The final decision on admission and subsequently acquiring the study exchange opportunity will depend on fulfilment of the requirements for admission for exchange at University of Padova.

Contact details for further information
Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi
Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism,
Makerere University
kamunyu.muhwezi@gmail.com

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Agriculture & Environment

PhD Scholarship Opportunities on the ‘Agroforestry for People, Ecosystems and Climate (AfPEC) Project’

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The School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences (SFEGS) as seen at dusk from the St. Augustine Chapel parking lot, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. Date taken: 3rd September 2017.

Makerere University, through the Department of Environmental Management, and the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences, and in collaboration with the universities, Aarhus University and University of Copenhagen of Denmark, is implementing a DANIDA funded project ‘Agroforestry for People, Ecosystems and Climate (AfPEC) (2024 – 2029), (https://afpec.info/about-afpec/). AfPEC aims to document the potential of agroforestry in arabica coffee farming for ecosystem goods and services, improved livelihoods and long-term sustainable development on the fragile Mount Elgon Ecosystem in Eastern Uganda.

The overall outcome of AfPEC will be a deeper understanding of the realized and potential future benefits of agroforestry in highland arabica coffee cultivation.

Considering the importance of coffee production in Uganda, and the international demand for sustainable quality coffee, there is a high need for applied and accessible research on agroforestry coffee production.

To this end, this project is now inviting suitable candidates to apply for 4 competitive PhD scholarships covering the following research themes.

Theme 1: Ecosystem services

Collection and analysis of quantitative empirical data to document the impact of agroforestry on ecosystem services, especially biodiversity, carbon storage and climate mitigation, but also other ecosystem services such as soil quality, nitrogen fixation, erosion, shade, water retention and pest control. A combination of biological, socioeconomic and ethnobiological data will be collected.

Two PhD students will be involved:

  1. One will focus on biodiversity and other ecosystem services, and
  2. The other one, will focus focus on climate adaptation and mitigation

Theme 2: Livelihoods and stewardship

Collection and analyses of empirical data on different agroforestry-based livelihoods and value chains, including income from coffee production. The livelihood analysis will include baseline scenarios, scope and barrier analysis (https://www.planvivo.org/baseline-scenario). These will be followed up by a well-developed process for monitoring value addition from improved agroforestry systems, business development and organizational strengthening https://www.forestsoftheworld.org/files/MRV2021en.pdf. Gender and youth aspects will be assessed for all livelihood and value chain analyses.

Two PhD fellowships are advertised under this theme:

  1. One PhD will focus on livelihood benefits and value chains, and
  2. The other one on incentives to promote stewardship and motivation, participatory integrated planning tools and wider societal and policy needs for promoting shift in agroforestry.

MAIN TASKS OF THE CANDIDATES

Successful applicants will register at Makerere University and will undertake the following tasks:

  1. Spend six (6) months in Denmark at Aarhus University or University of Copenhagen to refine their research proposals, review literature, participate in seminars and take some methodological courses.
  2. Collect and analyze data
  3. Produce a PhD thesis, based on 3-4 peer-reviewed articles published in key international journals
  4. Disseminate results in scholarly journals and at national and international conferences.
  5. Be an active participant in the day-to-day project activities.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS, QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE

The applicants should have completed a Master’s degree in Natural Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geographical Sciences, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, Development Studies, or any other closely related subject.

Applicants should have an excellent academic and educational record (an average of B for the Masters), strong analytical (Knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods) and writing skills (e.g. evidence of peer-reviewed publications or previous research experience will be an advantage).

Successful applicants will be expected to contribute to the project’s publication targets and will be encouraged to publish in international, peer-reviewed ISI journals. The candidates should be able to work independently but also as part of the project team.

Age limits: Not more than 40 years (female applicants) and 35 (male applicants) at the time of application.

WHAT THE SCHOLARSHIP COVERS

The PhD scholarship will cover tuition fees for a period of four years. The scholarship will provide a modest stipend. Research and travel expenses to and from Denmark will be covered by the project.

EXPECTED START DATE

Successful candidates will receive notification by 15th May 2024. After that, they are expected to develop their research proposals with the guidance of their supervisors, and to follow Makerere University’s procedures to apply for admission to the PhD Programme.
The planned starting date is 1st July 2024. The PhD contract will include a trial period of 4 months during which the candidates will be expected to register at the University.

HOW TO APPLY

Interested applicants should submit applications by e-mail to the respective theme leaders by 15th April 2024.

For theme one (1): Prof John Tabuti, Department of Environmental Management, Email: jtabuti@gmail.com, with a copy to Prof. Frank Mugagga (fmugagga@gmail.com)

For theme Two (2): Prof. Frank Mugagga, Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences, Email: fmugagga@gmail.com, with a copy to Prof. John Tabuti (jtabuti@gmail.com).

The application should include

  1. A brief statement of interest or cover letter describing your motivation to apply
  2. A concept of no more than 5 pages (page format A4 with 2.5 cm margins, single spacing and Times New Roman 12-point font) outlining the thematic focus and specifying how it relates to the overall project, research questions, methodological and theoretical focus, a timeframe of activities and a list of expected outputs. The concept should include suggestions for case studies.
  3. Curriculum vitae (CV), relevant academic transcripts and diplomas (Degree certificates and certified transcripts of academic degrees).
  4. A copy of the master’s thesis.
  5. Publications or any other relevant research work can be included. It is often difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution to publications with multiple authors, hence a short description of the applicant’s contribution must be included.
  6. Contact information (with phone numbers and e-mail addresses) for two persons who may act as references.

The selection process: Applications will be evaluated by a committee and suitable candidates will be invited for interviews.

This call is subject to equal opportunities for all, and qualifying women and candidates with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

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