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Mak-CoNAS Researchers Launch Project to Explore Forage Resources for Stingless Bees in Uganda

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Preamble

The products from stingless bees may be little but are so valuable. Stingless bees have many benefits to various sectors of the economy, more especially the Health and Agricultural sectors. The project titled – “Exploring Forage Resources for Stingless Bees in Uganda: The Case of Meliponula bocandei”seeks to preserve them and to maximize their benefits to the economy.

It is led by Dr. Perpetra Akite, Lecturer in the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences and supported by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF).

The Commissioner Entomology at the MAAIF, Mr. Lawrence Tusimomuhangi addressing participants.
The Commissioner Entomology at the MAAIF, Mr. Lawrence Tusimomuhangi addressing participants.

Launch of the project

Researchers from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University on 18th November 2021 launched a project to explore forage resources for Stingless bees in Uganda, with special focus on the Meliponula bocandei species. The launch held at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) in Nakyesasa, Wakiso District was presided over by the Commissioner, Entomology at the Ministry of Agricultural, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Mr Lawrence Tusimomuhangi. It was grace by among others, the current Head, Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, Dr. Eric Sande, and former heads, Prof. William Banage, Prof. Gilbert Isabirye Basuta and Prof. Anne Mary Akol.

Objectives of the project

Supported by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the project seeks to profile forage resources for Meliponula bocandei in the Western highlands and Lake Victoria Crescent AEZs of Uganda. It also aims to characterize pollen in honey of Meliponula bocandei collected from the Western highlands and Lake Victoria Crescent AEZs of Uganda. Under the project, the researchers plan to develop a Meliponula bocandei beekeeping calendar for Uganda. Once developed, the beekeeping calendar will guide farmers on the approximate date and duration of the blossoming periods of the important honey and pollen plants in their area, and the kind of flowers available for the bees in the course of the year.

Participants at the Meliponary at NaLIRRI.
Participants at the Meliponary at NaLIRRI.

The study follows two previous research projects that sought to domesticate stingless bees in Uganda and to explore the nutritional and medicinal values of their products.

According to the research team, stingless bees present enormous benefits to the Health and Agricultural Sectors. Their products have high nutritional and medicinal values. The pollination services associated with the stingless beekeeping industry can boost crop production especially in the urban settings. The stingless beekeeping industry also has great potential to generate employment. However, the continued destruction of the environment through deforestation and soil pollution presents a major challenge to the survival of the bees since they feed on restricted plant species. It is on this basis that the researchers have set out to study and preserve forage resources for stingless bees.

One of the stingless beehives at the Meliponary at NaLIRRI.
One of the stingless beehives at the Meliponary at NaLIRRI.

Expected outcomes

Presenting an outline of their study, the Principal Investigator, Dr Perpetra Akite said the project will largely contribute to the development of the stingless beekeeping industry in Uganda. “The project will impact positively at several frontiers, especially on the role played by stingless bees in crop pollination for food security. Scientists and other key actors will benefit from the knowledge generated from this action research on the identification of forage for stingless bees in Africa, and the economy will largely improve due to increased participation in stingless bee enterprises,” she noted. Other expected outcomes include; a baseline information and platform for developing stingless bee forage in Uganda, a stingless beekeeping calendar to promote meliponiculture and improvement in livelihoods.

Government expectations

Addressing participants, the Commissioner, Entomology at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr. Lawrence Tusimomuhangi applauded the researchers for the initiative. “The Government is deeply interested in insect related interventions. However, many questions in the area of entomology remain unanswered. There is need for substantive research into productive insects and Makerere should lead on this.We need to invent technologies for continuous production of insects like grasshoppers that have high commercial benefits. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is relying on Makerere and other research institutions to guide on the development of appropriate technologies for insect management interventions, and the promotion of agro industrialization in line with the National Development Plan III,” he explained. NDP III seeks to promote sustainable industrialization for inclusive growth, employment and wealth creation.

The researchers together with former and current members of staff pose for a photo with the Commissioner Entomology, Mr Lawrence Tusimomuhangi at the Meliponary at NaLIRRI.
The researchers together with former and current members of staff pose for a photo with the Commissioner Entomology, Mr Lawrence Tusimomuhangi at the Meliponary at NaLIRRI.

Proposals by participants

During the engagements, participants observed that there was need to study the behaviour of stingless bees at different locations (adaption to the environment) and variations in seasons before designing the beekeeping calendar. They also noted that it is important to collect data during both the dry and wet seasons for better results. Additionally, participants called for studies on the toxicological effects of agrochemicals on stingless bees.

In his remarks, the Head, Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at Makerere University, Dr Eric Sande commended the research team for writing a successful project. He appreciated the Government of Uganda for the enormous support towards research activities at Makerere. “Exploring Forage Resources for Stingless Bees in Uganda: A Case of Meliponula bocandei” is one of over 700 projects that have so far been supported by the Government of Uganda through Mak-RIF.

The Head, Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at Makerere University, Dr. Eric Sande (3rd L) and the PI Dr. Perpetra Akite (2nd L) with former Heads, Prof. William Banage (3rd R), Prof. Gilbert Isabirye Basuta (2nd L) and Prof. Anne Mary Akol (L) at the project launch.
The Head, Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at Makerere University, Dr. Eric Sande (3rd L) and the PI Dr. Perpetra Akite (2nd L) with former Heads, Prof. William Banage (3rd R), Prof. Gilbert Isabirye Basuta (2nd L) and Prof. Anne Mary Akol (L) at the project launch.

Additionally, Dr Sande acknowledged the presence of the former heads at the event and their continued support towards the development of the Department.

About NaLIRRI

Briefing participants on the NaLIRRI, the representative of the Director, Dr Patrice Kasangaki appreciated the long standing collaboration between the Institute and Makerere University Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences. The Department has collaborated with the NaLIRRI on several research projects and continues to offer practical training as well as supervision of students. NaLIRRI supported the department in research on domesticating stingless bees and exploring the nutritional and medicinal values of their products. The Institute has pledged support for the current project aimed at exploring forage resources for stingless bees in Uganda.

As part of the project launch activities, participants toured the Meliponary at NaLIRRI to learn more about the preservation of stingless bees.

Natural Sciences

Two Nutrifish-sponsored PhD students win awards of best oral presentations at ICAFA

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NutriFish team at the ICAFA conference held from 1st to 3rd September, 2022 in Jinja, Uganda. L-R: Dr. Winnie Nkalubo, PhD Students Julliet Nafula Ogubi and Herbert Nakiyende, Dr. Margaret Masette and Dr. Jackson Efitre (NutriFish PI).

Two of the NutriFish-sponsored PhD students, Nakiyende Herbert and Julliet Nafula Ogubi won the awards for the best and second-best oral presentations in the young scientists’ category at the International Conference on Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (ICAFA) held in Jinja, Uganda from 1st-3rd September 2022.  The conference was organized under the theme “Breaking new grounds to recognize and celebrate the contribution of small-scale fisheries towards food security and nutrition”.   

Julliet Nafula Ogubi (L) and Herbert Nakiyende (R) with their awards at the conference.
Julliet Nafula Ogubi (L) and Herbert Nakiyende (R) with their awards at the conference.

Supported by the International Research Development Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through their joint programme, Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF), NutriFish aims to address the nutritional needs of vulnerable groups that cannot afford expensive commercial fish but are in critical need of high quality nutritious diets. The Project is coordinated by Dr. Jackson Efitre, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University.

Dr. Jackson Efitre (NuriFish PI) with Herbert Nakiyende.
Dr. Jackson Efitre (NuriFish PI) with Herbert Nakiyende.

The title for Nakiyende Herbert’s presentation was: “Are small pelagic fisheries a blessing or curse? Understanding fisher community perceptions towards light fishing on Lake Albert, Uganda”.

Light fishing, the technique of catching fish by light attraction was introduced to Lake Albert, Uganda around early 2000s, to target two small pelagic species (SPS), Engraulicypris bredoi (muziri) and Brycinus nurse (ragoogi). The introduction of light fishing coincided with a period when stocks of large-bodied fishes, such as Tilapia spp, Lates niloticus, Bagras bajad, Alestes baremose, and Hydrocynus forskahlii in the Ugandan waters of Lake Albert had started to decline. Although Lake Albert is shared by Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), light fishing is prohibited in DRC waters. This study evaluated socio-ecological consequences of light fishing on the fisheries and lakeside communities of Lake Albert in Uganda, to inform sustainable management. Data was collected in April 2021 from three landing sites (Ntoroko, Kaiso, and Dei), through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Light fishing has transformed the lake’s annual fish catch from < 60,000 tonnes (t) in early 2000s, mainly of large species to about 330,000 t, dominated by SPS (60 – 80%) by 2021. The SPS light fishery currently engages over 30% of total fishing boats and 60% of fishers in the Ugandan waters of the lake. The technique has also led to conflicts with fishers targeting the large-bodied species, the main concerns being: i) excessive light fishing effort; ii) competition for fishing grounds; iii) high by-catch (~10%) dominated by juveniles of the large species; and iv) destruction of passive fishing gears used in the large-bodied species fisheries. To ensure co-existence in the multi-species fishery and continued livelihood benefits (employment, income, and food) of the SPS light fishery, resting and closed periods and light-fishery effort control were proposed by 95.4% of respondents. Detailed scientific investigation of the light fishing methods is recommended, to guide on the proposed closed season and fishing effort controls.

Julliet Nafula Ogubi with her award at ICAFA.
Julliet Nafula Ogubi with her award at ICAFA.

Julliet Nafula Ogubi’s presentation was on: “Spoilage mechanisms and associated drivers in post-harvest loss management in freshwater small pelagic fishes in Africa”.

Small pelagic fishes (SPFs) are steadily being recognized for their contribution to livelihoods, food and nutritional security especially in developing countries. The SPFs are schooling fishes with a total length of 20 cm, preserved mainly by open sun-drying.  Despite the bulk harvests, post-harvest losses associated with spoilage continue to hamper their availability, accessibility and consumption. A review of available literature on similar marine species revealed that spoilage commences immediately after harvest and progresses through three cascading but overlapping processes: autolytic (enzymatic), microbial and chemical reactions causing physical, quality, nutritional and economic losses. Spoilage in SPF is accelerated by i) their large surface to volume ratio; ii) the reliance on fluctuating sun radiation for drying which depends on prevailing weather condition; c) limited drying spaces for large quantities landed.  With regard to magnitude of losses, spoilage-related quality deterioration and nutritional changes in fish are rarely evaluated, hence associated economic value is lacking. The magnitude of losses attributed directly to the spoilage mechanisms have not been determined in freshwater SPFs, yet cost-effective interventions target significant processes. Handling practices, especially stacking and mixing of different fish hauls as drivers of spoilage mechanisms have not also been evaluated.  In addition, the effect of prolonged trips and lack of controlled temperature on-board, are less understood. Therefore, an urgent in-depth assessment of quality and nutritional losses and the associated economic value; the contribution of each spoilage mechanism to the magnitude of losses and the effect of handling practices on the rate of spoilage among freshwater SPFs is needed.

 (https://sf-initiative.org/conference/)

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Natural Sciences

Dr. Perpetra Akite wins British Ecological Society Marsh Award for Ecologists in Africa

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Dr. Perpetra Akite, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University.

Dr. Perpetra Akite has been awarded the Marsh Award for Ecologists in Africa.  This prize aims to celebrate the significant scientific achievements of African ecologists and raise their profile in the UK. It is provided by the Marsh Charitable Trust and administered by the British Ecological Society.

Dr. Akite is one of Uganda’s leading entomologists and experts in butterflies. She has made important advances in improving knowledge around insects in Uganda, contributing to assessing and mapping key ecologically sensitive species in the country. She has even had a moth named after her.  

Dr. Akite is also passionate about passing on her knowledge to younger generations and takes part in a great deal of outreach activities at both school and university level. Her goal is to encourage more young people – especially African girls – to begin a career in science.

The winners will be presented with their prizes during a ceremony held at the BES Annual Meeting which runs from 18th – 21st December in Edinburgh. The meeting will bring together over 1000 ecologists (in person and online) to discuss the latest advances in ecological research across the whole discipline.

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PESCA Call For Applications: Short Courses Training in Aquaculture

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Stakeholders follow proceedings during the Makerere and PESCA-NARO/ARDC Kajjansi workshop held from 19th to 22nd July 2022 at MUZARDI. Researchers met to review and harmonize aquaculture training modules of the EU-supported project.

PROVISION OF TRAINING SERVICES TO THE PROMOTING ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE COMMERCIAL AQUACULTURE IN UGANDA (PESCA) PROJECT

ADVERT FOR SHORT COURSES TRAINING IN AQUACULTURE

A. BACKGROUND

The Department of Zoology, Entomology, and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University was awarded a contract under the European Union-funded PESCA project implemented by Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) for the provision of training services. The overall objective of the assignment is to support training that will improve knowledge, skills, and practices that enhance aquaculture production and productivity in Uganda. This will be achieved through the following specific objectives:

  1. Support the placement of undergraduate students to work (internships) with fish farmers or other suitable aquaculture value chain (AVC) actors;
  2. Conduct inclusive customized short-term training with gender considerations (women, men, youth, people with disabilities) including farmers, Producer Organizations (POs), feed & seed producers, service providers, and other aquaculture stakeholders; and
  3. Support MSc. research and training.

The expected outputs from the short-course trainings are:

  1. Trainees (farmers, Producer Organizations, feed & seed producers, service providers etc.) with job-demanded competency skills & knowledge;
  2. Increased engagement of AVC actors in the training of students & review of university curricula;
  3. Orientation of tertiary Fisheries and aquaculture training institutions’ curricula to practical thematic areas; and
  4. Compendium of different modules compiled and shared with partners.

A certificate of attendance will be issued to trainees who successfully complete the training.

B. THE SHORT COURSE TRAINING OPPORTUNITY

Applications are invited for 180 fully funded bursaries for six (6) trainings covering relevant modules specified in (C) below. Each course is expected to be conducted within seven (7) days jointly with the Aquaculture Research and Development Center (ARDC), Kajjansi, National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NAFIRRI).

C. SHORT COURSE MODULES

TARGET GROUP(S)RELEVANT MODULESTRAINING DATES
1.Hatchery operators and managersIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Fish seed production and hatchery management (including fingerling transportation; early stock management in grow-out pond); Fish diseases and health management; Aquaculture business planning and organisation.9th-14th October 2022
2.Fish farmers and farm managersIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Establishing a commercially viable aquaculture enterprise; Aquaculture business planning and organisation; Aquaculture production systems.23rd-28th October 2022
3. Producer groupsIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Aquaculture production systems; Fish diseases and health management; Aquaculture business planning and organisation (including group dynamics, resource mobilisation for group self-sustenance; fish marketing skills).6th-11th November 2022
4. Feed producersIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Fish feeds production; Fish feeding and feed management; Aquaculture business planning and organisation13th-18th November 2022
5. Aquaculture Extension workersIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Aquaculture production systems, Fish diseases and health management; Aquaculture business planning and organization; Aquaculture Extension workers (including service delivery; aquaculture extension methods and tools).7th November – 2nd December 2022
6. Food and Fish ProcessorsIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Value addition for farmed fish; Aquaculture business planning and organisation.11th-16th December 2022

D. ELIGIBILITY

Target groupsSelection requirements for admission
Hatchery operators and managersAbility to read and write
Fish farmers and farm managersAbility to read and write
Producer groupsAbility to read, write and presentation of a registration certificate as a CBO or cooperative society
Feed producersAbility to read and write
Aquaculture Extension workersMinimum is a certificate in Fisheries and aquaculture
Food and Fish ProcessorsAbility to read and write

E. APPLICATION PROCESS

Application form should be electronically filled and submitted here: https://forms.gle/52JWCEaDH1ADcbVk7. In addition, a signed recommendation from your District Fisheries Officer or Leader of Producer Organisation should also be sent to the Head of Department (eric.sande@mak.ac.ug), with a copy to the Team Leader, Dr. Jackson Efitre (jackson.efitre@mak.ac.ug), and the short courses Coordinators, Juliet Nattabi Kattabi (julliet.nattabi@mak.ac.ug) and Rosemary Nalwanga (rosemary.nalwanga@mak.ac.ug) by the deadline of 30th September, 2022 at 5:00PM.

The advert is linked below.

Mak_PESCA Short Courses_ZEFs_CoNAS Advert.pdf

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