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Agriculture & Environment

Academia & Local Govt. Officials in West Nile Sensitized on Forestry & Biodiversity Conservation



Over 60 participants comprising academia, local government officials, the private sector and civil society organization on 2nd December 2021 converged at Muni University in Arua district to dialogue on the status of forests and bio diversity in West Nile region of Uganda 

The policy dialogue was organized by EfD-Mak Centre in collaboration with Muni University and Arua District Local Government under the theme, Forestry and Biodiversity: Addressing  the challenges of Forest Degradation and enhancing Environment Management in Uganda”.

Arua threatened by high Refugee influx and atrocities on the environment

The Ag. Director EfD-Mak Centre Fred Kasalirwe said Arua was selected because a lot of atrocities committed on nature in the region and the fact that Arua Local Government has been at the fore front of this because it is the mother district for all.

The Ag. Director EfD-Mak Centre Uganda Fred Kasalirwe presenting during the meeting.
The Ag. Director EfD-Mak Centre Uganda Fred Kasalirwe presenting during the meeting.

Kasalirwe said there is an influx of refugees and refugee settlements in the region who interface with nature directly because they lack alternative sources. Most of the charcoal and firewood supplied in Kampala and other towns come from West Nile and this has led to the loss of indigenous tree cover. Whoever tries to replace goes for eucalyptus and pine also impacting on the flora and fauna.

“One of the mandates of the centre is to reach out to policy makers and implementers and other stakeholders in the field of environment and natural resources because the policies are implemented at the local government levels. So reaching out to local governments helps to understand what is on ground and when we sit to make policy recommendations, we have voices from the lower local government levels.

The voices gathered from the engagement and debate will be taken up through drafted policy briefs and then we organize a national level dialogue with combined voices from all districts visited,  identify policy gaps and engage the ministers and  advocates who are parliamentary committees on environment, natural resources and agriculture to air out voices on the parliament floor,” said Kasalirwe.

A section of participants attending the meeting.
A section of participants attending the meeting.

Forest depletion in West Nile higher than the national rate

The representative of the Vice chancellor Muni University Prof. Robert Kajobe who is Dean school of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences said the degradation of the environment and forests in the region is relatively more that the national rate.

“We have over 40 years of degradation which has worsened.  Uganda has 1.4million refugees and out these over 1million refugees are in West Nile alone. These added  to the native  population of 3 million culminates to 4 million people  looking for materials for construction, fuel wood and charcoal and the toll is on the environment.

Before the refugee status  West Nile was known for tobacco growing and the tobacco depleted the soil in the region for a long time because when they were curing tobacco they were using fuel wood selecting indigenous trees which were important with residual values leaving the ground bear”, the Vice Chancellor reported.

Prof. Kajobe decried that West Nile  region used to have two rainy seasons (March to May) and another  longer one  (July to November or up to early December) but in the last three years, the region has had one season of drought  from December up to may.

Prof. Robert Kajuba delivering the keynote address.
Prof. Robert Kajobe delivering the keynote address.

In addition he said there is scarcity of construction materials and fuel wood forcing women and girls to walk 3-5km   looking for fuel wood and while hunting for wood, conflicts arise, they are bitten or raped.

The region he reported is experiencing food insecurity due to soil depletion caused by clearance of the forests and because of the drought, annual crops cannot do well while perennial crops like tea cocoa, banana and coffee are no more

Muni university pilots alternative fuel sources and revises curriculum

Muni university according to Prof. Kajobe has embarked on a number of research projects on sustainable and alternative use of the environment including a pilot project on biogas from feacal sludge as a main source of fuel  for homes and institution to reduce pressure on forest cutting using sludge.

“The university has done studies on the severity of the problem and secondly we are designing courses in environment and natural resources to bring on board technical people locally both in Masters, Bachelors and Diploma to help in fixing the problem.

The Ag. Vice Chancellor Muni University Prof. Robert Kajuba addressing participants during the opening session.
The Ag. Vice Chancellor Muni University Prof. Robert Kajobe addressing participants during the opening session.

We are also partnering with organizations to provide information as technical backstopping to many local and international NGOs, created awareness through media and visited these areas and talked to the local communities to see that the problem is solved. Another key issue is the involvement of the district local government and technical people and political leaders to rally together and solve the problem.

District plans to mitigate forest and biodiversity degradation

The Chairman (LCV) Alfred Okuonzi called upon the District leadership to defend, identify and promote a conservation culture saying, all people know the importance of forests and natural resources in general.

The Chairman noted that a lot has been written and said but all has remained on paper due to lack of exemplary leadership at the district adding that time has come for the district to announce tree cutting in West Nile as an outbreak just like COVID-19 to attract the attention and financing from every stakeholder.

“With the outbreak of COVID-19, we saw vehicles and financial assistance flow to districts. But when trees are cut nothing is done. We need special funding to green the region. If we continue interfering with the environment supporting our livelihoods, the pattern of rains will continue to be distorted, agricultural production will continue to be affected leading to malnutrition and poor performance in schools”.

The Arua District LC V Chairman Alfred Okuonzi making his remarks.
The Arua District LC V Chairman Alfred Okuonzi making his remarks.

The district chairman expressed the need to put in place more staffing in the forest department to the level of Principal and senior forest officers as is in other sectors.

He said although government has injected resources in environmental protection, the resultant impact remain minimal largely due to poor leadership and uncontrolled reproduction increasing the population heavily dependent on the environment.

He said the district plans to spend resources on individual leaders and homesteads to ensure they plant trees, change people’s mindset and promote forest management. The district he said is engaging the National Forestry Authority to include district forest office in all the activities.

The Chairman said plans are underway to work with the Uganda National Roads Authority to provide seedlings to plant trees along the roads while  the next two years will be dedicated as years of greening to restore the glory of Arua district.

He encouraged district technocrats to work with media to provide information to raise awareness and provide information and the media on the other hand, to package the messages in a way that change the mindset of the communities.

The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Arua Ocen Robert  making his closing remarks.
The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Arua Ocen Robert making his closing remarks.

While closing the workshop, the Deputy Resident District Commissioner Ocen Robert underscored the importance of environment and forest in livelihood provision and in regulating the climate.

“I liked the statistics by one presenter who said a human being requires 700 kg of oxygen per year but one tree produces about 100 kg of oxygen. If one is to survive, you need to plant 7 trees and encourage every family member to plant 7 trees annually”

He proposed the need to come up with subsidies on alternative sources of energy such as electricity and solar and gas to make it more accessible and affordable to reduce stress on the forests.

He also proposed the need to discourage people using firewood – cured bricks and promote alternative building materials such as blocks from cement, the need to speak to local residents on the status and advantages of the forests such that conservation and protection begins right from the community level.He appealed to leaders to speak one language in order to succeed in implementation of the district ordinances.

Agriculture & Environment

CAES Annual Report 2023



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

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

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

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

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

Teaching and Learning for improving learner experiences

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

Research and Innovation for impacting society

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

Knowledge transfer and Community engagement

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

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

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

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

Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga

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Agriculture & Environment

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



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

By Brian Ogenrwoth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Agriculture & Environment

Eco Brixs Seeks to Collaborate with Mak in Plastics Waste Management



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

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

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

Proposed areas for collaboration

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

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

About Eco Brixs

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

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