By Jane Anyango
Makerere University has been handed 10 hectares of land in Poron Sub-County, Napak District to set up a livestock café with a tick control demonstration site. The land was handed over from Poron Sub-County to the Napak and Moroto District Technical and Political officials and then to the University on 23rd October 2021.
The demonstration site and knowledge hub are to be implemented under the Drylands Transform project funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, aimed at addressing complex challenges in the East African dylands such as climate change, food insecurity, land and ecosystem degradation and weak institutions.
Drylands Transform investigates the inter linkages between land health, livestock based livelihoods, human wellbeing and land governance mechanisms in order to contribute to transformative change and sustainable development of the social ecological system in drylands of East Africa.
The 10 hectares were handed over following a series of meetings between the Makerere University research team and Napak and Moroto District Local Governments and Poron Sub-County Technical and Political officials, wherein the research team sought permission and support to implement five-year project activities for the benefit of the agro- pastoralists and pure pastoralists.
Makerere University’s Principal Investigator Prof. Denis Mpairwe thanked the Parish, Sub-County and District technical and political units for the support and offer. He said the offer followed field visits and meetings with stakeholders, users and land owners as well as the Sub-County officials in areas where the project activities will be piloted.
“We were able to meet all the Councilors, Sub-County Chiefs and all the Local Council Chairpersons of the parishes where we shall be operating. We were welcomed in the area and there was willingness to work with the people on the Drylands Transform project.
What was amazing was that when we came for recognizance, we met the community and when we left they went ahead and demarcated the land. And later when they found it was not adequate they went ahead to give us another piece across the road but still within the same area and so we secured the 10 hectares that we need”, Prof. Mpairwe said.
The other achievement according to Prof. Mpairwe was that the communities were all in acceptance and agreed to work with the project team that is going to come under the LDSF – Land Degradation Surveillance Framework expected of them in December and January during the dry spell.
The third achievement he said, was that the community accepted to work with enumerators scheduled to come to conduct household surveys on people’s livelihoods with priority participants being the local residents as long as they hold degrees and diplomas.
The Local Council III (LCIII) Chairperson Poron Mr. Agella John summed it all up by saying that the Sub-County had already given the University whatever it required and that the parties had better stop talking and embark on action. Through consensus all the Sub-County and Parish Chiefs as well as District Officials had agreed on the land for the project.
They also noted that as a Sub-County they didn’t have a heavily degraded or bare area as sought by the project team but unanimously agreed with the University team that Matany was different from the other study sites as it falls under the rain belt where they are expected to look at degradation not by the bare ground but by the loss of important species.
“We went to the site with the entire team in the afternoon, and were taken around the land, given demarcations and then there was an official hand over of the land from the community to the Sub-County, from the Sub-County to the District, then from the District to the project, and it was made clear that this land is still theirs”. The PI explained.
The community appreciated the humble approach the University used to request for land expressing happiness and readiness to work with the project team.
They were also appreciative that the project was focusing on livestock, crops and land use which were important to them.
The community members also introduced the research team to the main crops grown including, green gram, sunflower, sorghum, maize and cassava. They were interested in seeing how green gram can be improved as the major cash crop.
The community in addition said, since the project was looking at the degraded areas it has to address the problem of water scarcity too.
The research team was also informed that most of the population never went to school but, what they have seen in the livestock cafe as a knowledge sharing centre, is a school where they will acquire practical skills, utilize the knowledge and teach others.
The community acknowledged poor nutrition of the animals and entire families as a major factor affecting them and wanted researchers to address the issue of controlling ticks on their livestock as it poses a big challenge.
The acquired land according to Prof. Mpairwe is to be used as a demonstration site termed as a livestock café. In this area the project wants to demonstrate the sustainable way of utilizing the land without causing degradation but also improve on its productivity and in the long run, improve the livelihoods of the people.
“Within the livestock cafe we are going to look at how to improve all the crops, the pasture and trees in the area. We are also trying to address the challenges of the drylands where the major factors are water and fodder and that is why we want to work with you to show you the sustainable ways of conserving water and utilizing it”, Prof. Mpairwe said.
He reported that the site allocated has a water tank that is silted and that this was a chance for the project to de-silt it so as to provide enough water for the livestock café in addition to setting up a spray race to control ticks.
“Our target is knowledge sharing, teaching the people on what to do, to conserve the land, increase on its productivity, stop degradation, improve animal and human health and in the long run, improve the livelihoods of people.
In a nutshell, we scored high in Napak. We were able to get a team of willing agro-pastoralists stakeholders to work with us after understanding what the project is about. By the fourth year project mark, the people would have learnt how to utilize the land, increase productivity of both the crop and livestock and got enough knowledge to produce from that land, knowledge to give to others and there is high potential of making money especially from feeds and hay which is becoming a big commodity in Uganda”, Prof. Mpairwe stated.
Napak District Agricultural Officer Mr. Nangiro Abrahams said they understood the whole concept of the Drylands Transform project as one of the longest projects the district will host.
The Agricultural Officer thanked the community of Napak and Poron Sub-County in particular for the teamwork saying, where the district leadership had reached in terms of preparation was amazing.
“As soon as we heard of the coming of the project, we were able to take up the matter and share it with our community leaders. As the District Agricultural Officer, we have interested the community to take up developmental interventions in the area and Poron Sub-County in particular. I have also welcomed the project and I am confident that the community will cooperate for the project to achieve the desired objectives”, Mr. Nangiro said.
Nangiro noted that the main aspects of the project which are landscapes, livestock and livelihoods require a lot of demonstrations in the community. He said the community had gone ahead with the leadership of the Sub-County and District to identify some portion of land of over 20 acres where the project will be located.
The Agricultural Officer said, the mode of project delivery focuses on livestock cafes and the land given by the community will be owned by the Sub-County with all demonstrations about livestock management, crop production, water conservation, pasture management done within the given plot of land.
Mr. Nangiro said after the project, the demonstration site will continue acting as a school for the community and many who have not gone to school for the sustainability of the project.
He said Napak District Local Government welcomes interventions that are geared towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and works together with non-state actors to complement government programs to fill the gaps in advisory services, financing and staffing.
“Many of our people depend on livestock for their livelihood and this aspect has been so much affected because of the changing climate and poor agronomic practices and this is where other actors have to come on board to work with government to find solutions.
Many of our farmers have gone into crop farming and have issues to do with non-adaption to good agricultural practices, lack of agricultural inputs, agro input dealers, agro processing where concerted effort is required”, Nangiro noted. The District Agricultural Officer called upon Makerere University to put more focus into research, practices, technologies and indigenous knowledge that has been lost over the years for better survival of the communities.
Jane Anyango is the Principal Communication Officer, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES)
IGE Cross-country National Policy Review & Training Workshop opens in Uganda
The three-day Inclusive Green Economy (IGE) cross-country National Policy Review and Training Workshop was on 23rd November 2021 opened at the Speke Resort Hotel Munyonyo in Uganda attracting over forty members of academia and policy makers from the Swedish Environment for Development (EfD) Global hub and the East African countries including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
The function running 23rd -25th November, 2021 was organized by the EfD-Mak Centre, Uganda in collaboration with University of Gothenburg, as part of the activities of the Inclusive Green Economy (IGE) capacity building programme for senior civil servants and policy makers sponsored by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
The purpose of the National Policy Review (NPR) training is to strengthen cross-country peer learning by conducting an analytical review of their neighboring country’s NPR, and strengthen networks on Inclusive Green Economy in the region.
The workshop was opened by the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Maria Håkansson. The function was also graced by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, the Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and the Principal College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) Assoc. Prof. Eria Hisali.
Focus is to keep track towards Agenda 2030 and Paris Agreement for a green transition
Ambassador Håkansson said the workshop comes at a right time as the world experiences the effects of climate change.
“We are living in the mix of climate change. It is no longer a distant problem for the future generation. It affects all of us living now and climate and biodiversity is top priority of my government and we see it clearly linked to poverty reduction and economic development”, She said.
She noted that although a lot of focus today is on COVID-19 pandemic, there is need to start tracking the way out of the crisis towards recovery.
“Recovery strategies need to be developed to promote inclusive growth, employment and competitiveness. Identifying such strategies will depend on how deep and long lasting the economic recession becomes and should also include structural elements that can be used as opportunities to undertake important reforms for the future.
And in doing so, we must endure the approach of the UN Secretary General. We must ensure that the recovery strategies keep us on track towards Agenda 2030 and those of the Paris Agreement of building a sustainable inclusive economy that is a recovery base for a green transition”, the Ambassador emphasized.
She reported that Sweden was the first country to pass an environmental protection act in 1967 and has continued to take a leading role in tackling climate change to government action and set a goal for carbon neutrality that is more ambitious to the Paris Agreement.
In addition the Ambassador said, the Swedish government has successfully decoupled carbon dioxide emissions from growth since 1997 without compromising public welfare while increasing prosperity for its inhabitants.
By adopting ambitious climate policies, Sweden also wants to set a good example for others to follow and in doing so, it is one of the world largest providers of climate financing and sharing knowledge and incorporating various programmes such as the Inclusive Green Economy in practice
Uganda’s progress towards inclusive green economy implementation
Representing the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ms. Maris Wanyera said, for years, Uganda has experienced a positive trend in population growth which is associated with increased unemployment and environmental destruction.
“The country is still challenged with the continuous abuse of natural resources especially forests and wetlands. Relatedly, this has raised concerns on whether the attained economic growth has not been achieved at the expense of the environment and natural resources”. Ms. Wanyera said
As the 2030 Agenda took effect globally, Wanyera said, Government took steps to implement principles such as green growth that are embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Uganda was among the first countries to mainstream SDGs into its development plan, although a strategy that unpacks green growth into sectoral interventions that can be implemented had not yet been devised.
In response, Government developed the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy (UGGDS) as the blue print to operationalize green growth principles and accelerate the implementation of global development goals, Uganda Vision 2040 and the National Development Plans 2 and 3”, Ms. Wanyera said.
The goal of the UGGDS according to Wanyera is to achieve an inclusive low emissions economic growth process that emphasizes effective and efficient use of natural, human and physical capital while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide for present and future generations.
For purposes of achieving the objectives of the UGGDS, Ms. Wanyera said, Government requires that all new projects across all sectors include aspects of sustainable green growth largely emphasized in implementation of the National Development Plan II (2015 – 2020) and currently in NDP III (2021 – 2026).
Accordingly, the NDP III (2021-2026) has a fully-fledged program on climate change in addition to mainstreaming it in all other programmes.
“Uganda has just recently passed the National Climate Change Act 2021 and to further augment the Green Growth Development Strategy and to address the post COVID 19 recovery, the country is working on integrating climate-resilient and low carbon emission measures into Government’s stimulus and recovery packages. The priority areas are: climate finance, ICT (Digitalization of sectors), resilient transport, urban and built environment, energy, human capital development and public procurement”, Wanyera said.
Environmental degradation a matter of urgency for Uganda’s academia
The Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said it is extremely urgent for Uganda to think of addressing the issue of environmental depletion.
“There is massive use of firewood as the major source of cooking fuel, cutting down trees for charcoal for home use and export to countries like South Africa. It may be fetching us some little money but we need to think of our future generation.
As a country we need to sit and think seriously about alternative energy sources and reduce the destruction of the environment, otherwise we are heading for real trouble and we are going to leave our children in difficult situations”, Prof. Nawangwe said.
The Vice Chancellor noted that government has tried to come up with laws on protecting the environment but the challenge remains with enforcement. Alternatives such as use of electricity and solar energy are in place but with limitations of affordability and reach. Prof. Nawangwe said these requires the private sector to come on board to supplement government efforts.
As a university, the Vice Chancellor said, the issues of climate change, environmental degradation and the increasing population growth are important to the university.
“The university has a responsibility to conduct research and take the lead in finding solutions to the pressing issues and giving evidenced policy briefs to government to make decisions and come up with new workable policies based on research. We have a number of researchers working on environmental issues and I am happy that the university of Gothenburg is working with Makerere on environment issues through the EfD-Mak Centre”, Prof. Nawangwe said.
He said the university promotes multidisciplinary research that brings together expertise in agriculture, economics, forestry, environment and gender among others in trying to seek solutions to environmental challenges facing the country.
IGE fellows challenged on addressing capacity gaps, domestication and monitoring progress of the Inclusive Green Growth concept
The Principal College of Business and Management Sciences, Assoc. Prof. Eria Hisali paid tribute to the leadership of the EfD-Mak Centre for mentoring the IGE fellows in Uganda pledging commitment to support to the program.
Assoc. Prof. Hisali challenged the IGE fellows to look at the capacity gaps in matters related to inclusive green economy noting that the training in Uganda has covered six fellows and this is only a drop in the ocean compared to size of public service in and the challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation.
“…how fast are we going to scale up the group to reach out to a bigger number of people? The second challenge is the domestication of the concept of inclusive green economy. With the different international protocols, experience given and many ideas on how to take up the inclusive green economy, how much of this has been domesticated across the different countries?
Do we have a coherent framework in our countries for monitoring and evaluating the progress and how much of this concept is appreciated out there and if not, what should we do to cover the capacity gaps?”, Assoc. Prof. Hisali asked.
Jane Anyango is the Communication Officer, EfD-Mak Centre
Mak Researchers Skilling Roadside Plant Nursery Owners on Business Management & Sustainable Practices
Uganda’s roadside urban and peri-urban plant nurseries are a unique small-scale business that play a critical role in poverty eradication by acting as green businesses and providing employment to many youth and women. However, their growth and sustainability is threatened by inadequate requisite business management skills and knowledge. To remedy this, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), and the College of Business Management (CoBAMS), Makerere University have embarked on activities to build business management skills and sustainable plant nursery management practices among their owners, operators, and workers. The researchers namely; Dr Edward Nector Mwavu (Principal Investigator), Dr Anthony Tibaingana, Dr Paul Ssegawa, Dr Grace Nakabonge and Ms. Agatha Syofna are working in collaboration with officials from the Ministry of Local Government and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).
The activity is intended to enhance profitability of the roadside plant nursery business.
Through their project titled “Building business management skills and sustainable practices among urban and peri-urban roadside plant nursery owners, operators and workers for resilient ‘green’ businesses in Greater Kampala, Uganda, the researchers are training roadside farmers on the best plant and business management practices.
According to the researchers, building capacity coupled with the provision of access to technical information could greatly help move the nursery businesses from where they are today to where their owners and managers want them to be. Furthermore, the skilling of roadside plant nurseries operators and workers to sustainably manage them as green businesses, is a triple-win strategy since it supports the improvement of livelihoods of many low-income urban and peri-urban households, and boosts plant conservation, urban agriculture as well as forestry development. “If properly managed and maintained these ‘green’ businesses have the potential to fulfil a variety of financial returns,” the researchers advise.
Pathogens Severely Affecting Agricultural Production in Africa – Researchers
Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, employing about 73% of the population and contributing approximately 20% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 48% export earnings. The National Development Plan (NDP III) identifies agriculture as one of the key growth opportunities with the highest potential to generate employment and have positive multiplier effects on other sectors. The Agricultural sector contributes about 50% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of most countries in Africa, and plays a pivotal role in ensuring food security across the globe. The sector is however derailed by a number of factors. Key among these are pathogens that are greatly undermining crop production in the country and Africa in general.
On 8th-9th November 2021, the Department of Agricultural Production, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University in partnership with the University of Pretoria, South Africa held a research dissemination workshop at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala to deliberate on a number of issues affecting the sector. Convened by Dr Nicholas Kagimu under the theme “The Impact of Pathogens on Agricultural Production”, the workshop was part of the activities under the Future Africa’s Early Career Research Leader Fellowship (ECRLF) programme at the University of Pretoria intended build a critical mass of the next generation researchers in Africa. It drew participants from academic and research institutions across Africa.
Topics discussed included; the Status of nematology research in Uganda by Dr Hebert Talwana (Department of Agricultural Production, CAES); Bioprospecting of the Natural Products from Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus bacteria and their application in agriculture by Dr Nicholas Kagimu (ECRL Fellow at Future Africa, University of Pretoria); Entomopathogenic fungi for insect crop management by Dr Jeninah Karungi (School of Agricultural Sciences, CAES); An overview of Entomopathogenic nematodes- EPN (insect-killing-worms) in Africa/ICIPE perspective presented by Dr Solveig Haukeland, ICIPE Nairobi); Status of liquid culture development for commercialization of entomopathogens in South Africa (Prof. Antoinette Malan, Stellenbosch University); Forest pest surveillance to protect Africa’s forest resource (Prof. Brett Hurley, FABI – University of Pretoria); Bio-control agents in pest management in Uganda’s forest systems (Dr Peter Kiwuso – NaFORRI); Bio-prospected products from insects (pharmaceutical, nutritional, cosmetics) presented by Dr Alice Nabatanzi, College of Natural Sciences – Makerere University; Chemical defenses of forest trees to fungal infection and the consequences of these defenses on insect herbivory (Prof. Almuth Hammerbacher – FABI, University of Pretoria); What Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria can offer in collaboration with research and industry in Uganda (Prof. Bernard Slippers – Director FABI, University of Pretoria; Tsetse fly vector: effects distribution and control in Uganda; Tick epidemic and vaccine development; Helminths and helminths control in small ruminants (Dr Idibu Joachine –CoVAB, Makerere University); Veterinary drug use and resistance; Potential of biopesticides in small holder agricultural systems (Dr Paul Sigombe – Real IPM Uganda); as well as Chemical control of internal and external parasites in livestock by Dr Ivan Kisakya from MTK Uganda.
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