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.
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.
Kabale District Local Government Officials Sensitized on Conservation of Forests & Biodiversity
By Jane Anyango
Over 50 officials from Kabale District Local Government have been sensitized on the need to protect the environment for sustainable livelihoods and the future generations.
The policy dialogue under the theme, “Forestry and Biodiversity: Addressing the challenges of Forest Degradation and enhancing Environment Management in Uganda”, was organized by the EfD-Mak Centre Uganda on 3rd November, 2021 at White Horse Hotel in Kabale District.
The meeting attracted participants ranging from Government Ministries and Agencies, NGOs, the private sector, politicians, Environmental police, civil society organizations and members of the Academia from Kabale and Makerere University.
The function was officially opened by the Kabale District Chairman (LCV) Nelson Nshangabasheija and also attended by the Vice Chairperson Miria Ankankwasa, the Chief Administrative Officer and Clerk to Council Gordon Manzi. The function was also graced by the District Forestry Officer Benjamin Ariyo and the Crime Intelligence Officer for Environmental Police Protection Unit Sam Kyomukama.
The Deputy Director EfD-Mak Center Prof. Johnny Mugisha in his submission said that they have been conducting policy dialogues across the country and Kabale is one of the areas requiring awakening in as far as policy management and implementation of environmental issues is concerned.
“Kabale is unique from most of other parts of the country because of its landscape. It is characterized by high population mostly residing on steep slopes which must feed. There has been a compromise between environmental conservation and agricultural production to an extent that because food takes priority number one for a household, most of the environment has been encroached on including the fragile ecosystems.
The steep slopes result into landslides and flooding in the bottom valleys and therefore, we found it prudent to come to Kabale and interact with different stakeholders including policy makers, district leaders, those practicing conservation of the environment like tree planters, such that we remind them on the benefits of the environment, its conservation and what we gain when we conserve it”, Prof. Mugisha explained.
Climbing beans, brewing waragi and mushrooming soft drinks impacting on the environment
Kabale used to grow the bush beans (short beans) until they became unproductive, research replaced them with high yielding climbing beans. These require a small area to yield highly and because they climb, they need to be staked.
Staking them needs some sticks which come from trees. Every household grows climbing beans but not every household has trees to get sticks from. So careless households who don’t have tree sources go and encroach on other peoples trees and they carelessly cut the branches.
Prof. Mugisha said the forest stand in Kabale district is highly threatened.
“There used to be significant forest cover. The estimation we have from National Forest Authority is that in the1990s, we had about 4.9 hectares of forest cover but after 25 years, by 2015, the forest cover had reduced to about 2.2 hectares indicating a 50% loss of the forest cover. If that trend is not checked, we are likely to have zero forest in some few years to come. The reason everybody must come on board is so that we do the planting, conservation and careful harvesting of the existing trees”, The Deputy Director said.
In his opening remarks, the district chairman Nelson Nshangabasheija thanked Makerere University for initiating the program to discuss how the district can protect the natural resources.
“The challenge here is brewing crude waragi and soft drink factories working near lakes and rivers. Our climate used to be very good but now, with these factories, they are damaging our natural resources. As political heads in the district, we are trying to see how we can work together to protect the natural resources”, Nshangabasheija said.
Nshangabasheija emphasized that the district was planning to relocate the factories from the lake and river side and near wetlands to alternative areas. To regain the beauty of trees and lakes, and to reduce soil erosion, the district he said, is considering coming up with a bye-law compelling the population to plant three or more trees for one tree cut.
The Regional Crime Intelligence Officer for Environmental Police Protection Unit in Kigezi region Sam Kyomukama said among the six districts which make Kigezi region, Kabale is the worst hit in terms environmental degradation. Others are Rubanda, Rukiga, Kanungu, Rukungiri and Kisoro.
“About 90% of the wetlands in Kabale have been depleted and as we talk now, there is no intact wetland in the district. All wetlands were cultivated and are under Irish potatoes. Rivers have been encroached on and people are dumping in soil and, wherever you go to the site for enforcement, they have big people who threaten us. The encroachers are protected by politicians like Members of Parliament and Councilors making it difficult to execute our work”, Kyomukama said.
He said just as was the case in Kabale, forests in other districts were being threatened by deforestation to provide charcoal for cooking as a major fuel source .
Kyomukama also reported that all rivers in Kabale have been encroached on by agricultural activities up to the banks resulting to power blackouts whenever it rains as power has to be switched off to remove the silt from Maziba dam.
Kyomukama decried inadequate support to the unit which hinders effective movement to all districts saying, he currently moves on a motorcycle to carry out enforcement in the six districts.
“In addition there are mushrooming factories of soft drinks including these ones called Babababa, Numi, Entare and they don’t have control. Another problem we have is waragi brewing done in wetlands where they divert rivers to work as coolants.
This is dangerous because they are using molasses and whenever molasses drops on grass, within three days, the grass is dry. These chemicals enter the rivers, rusting Maziba dam and killing mud fish and frogs in the rivers.
We are in touch with the Kabale District Police Commander and any time, we will storm, arrest and arraign culprits in courts of law.” The police officer warned.
Kabale District Forestry Officer Benjamin Ariyo said, the district does not have a gazetted reserve by government due to the recent partition of Rubanda and Rukiga districts where most of the forest reserves of the Mafuga area that covers over 1,500 hectares was taken by Rubanda district.
Kabale District he said, only relies on private planters and given the nature of the land tenure system of Kigezi region, most of them are small holders apart from a group called Uganda Agroforestry Network having over 150 hectares in Makanga area and all covered with pinuspatular trees that are due for harvest.
As far as biodiversity is concerned, the forest officer said, the district has species richness in wetland complexes of Bunyonyi as well as North and South Kiruma, with over 312 species of birds like the grey crested crane that is being conserved by nature Uganda in collaboration with the Crane Foundation.
Ariyo explained that Kabale district has a record of over 149 plant richness species both indigenous and exotic, woody and non woody, stating that due to population explosion,infrastructural development and weak policies regarding to wetland use, the biodiversity and forestry recovery in the area has been greatly affected.
The forestry officer reiterated the challenge of getting a winning solution between wetland users and politicians, saying that most of them encourage people to remain in wetlands yet people were experiencing variations in climate conditions of the area.
“Initially during the month of June to August, you would enter Kabale and feel a different breeze but now we are uncertain, we don’t know when the rains are coming,when the sun is to shine, there are lots of changes in rain seasons, the dry spell goes up to April yet April and September used to be rainy seasons”, He said.
Ariyo underscored the need to restore forestry and vegetation cover within the district noting that due to population explosion, people are using resources unsustainably.
“For instance, there is a tree called black wattle, a hard wood tree that takes up to 35 years to mature, yet good for charcoal and firewood but due to its propagation means, it is hard to get it and its seedlings because it is being threatened.
There are mammals that are getting extinct especially the swampy rats. Those ones are already on the red list of the endangered species but it is all attributed to uncontrolled human activities within the district related to unsustainable resource use,” Ariyo stated.
The forest officer reported that although climbing beans are the only performing bean varieties within the district, they are the biggest problem to forest conservation.
He explained that for someone to produce beans, they need climbing sticks and they tend to use young eucalyptus sprouts, indigenous shrubs and small trees. These take a short time like three months yet collected sticks cannot work for three seasons because of being exposed to termites.
“You find that they are cutting down trees for two seasons per year leading to quick vegetation loss. If different varieties of beans can be developed by agriculturalists, we shall be able to conserve our trees. Agriculture does not only take away the trees, it also uses a lot of fertilizers and sprays chemicals which kill bees as pollinators. Someone who has been harvesting 100 avocados from his tree, is now harvesting 20-30 because of poor pollinators.”
Jane Anyango is a Principal Communication Officer at Makerere University
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