Plans are underway to establish a University-wide Research and Innovations Incubation Centre. This was revealed by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe during the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Open Day held on 14th December 2021 to showcase outputs of some of the research projects supported by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF). The event was presided over by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Maj. Gen. David Kasura Kyomukama. It was attended by, among others, the representative of the Chair Grant Management Committee, Assoc. Prof. Isa Kabenge; stakeholders in the agricultural sector; the Principal, CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha; the Deputy Principal, Dr.Gorettie Nsubuga Nabanoga; members of the Mak-RIF Secretariat led by Ms. Phoebe Kamya Lutaaya; and members of staff and students of Makerere University.
Touring the exhibition stalls, the Vice Chancellor said Management was fast-tracking the formation of a university-wide Research and Innovations Incubation Centre to support researchers to improve their prototypes. “The projects we have seen today are very impressive.It is gratifying to note that our researchers are actively working with communities to address various challenges. This is clear testimony that we are on the right track as a University. I take this opportunity to congratulate all researchers for the great innovations,” he said.
Emphasizing the critical role played by universities in the development of nation states, the Vice Chancellor said Makerere had reached a stage of churning out companies that can transform the country’s economy in the shortest time possible. “Through the Research and Innovations Incubation Centre, this can be achieved. It is our responsibility to ensure our country remains stable by creating employment for multitudes of young people, and enhancing food security. I therefore appeal to the government to support the establishment of the centre.”
The Vice Chancellor reminded the researchers of the need to patent their work. He also advised them to work towards commercialising their products. He expressed gratitude to the Government of Uganda for the continued support towards research and innovations at Makerere University. He also appreciated the University Grant Management Committee for negotiating the support and ensuring it is put to good use. The Vice Chancellor commended the Mak-RIF Secretariat for working tirelessly to ensure the research conducted does not remain on the shelves but is widely disseminated to foster uptake and economic transformation.
During the event, researchers from CAES showcased outputs of various projects including;
- Unlocking the commercial potential of Canariumschweinfurthi (Empafu) indigenous fruits for improved livelihood in Central Uganda – Prof. Jacob Agea. The main objective of the project was to develop high value commercial innovations from the fruit. Specific objectives were to formulate high value wine and jam innovations from the fruit pulp and to assess consumer market acceptability for developed wine and jam innovation.
- Design, construction and evaluation of an automated continuous pasteurizer –Dr Emmanuel Baidhe, Dr Julia Kigozi. Along the juice processing chain, thermal processing by pasteurization is considered to be the most crucial of all unit operations as it increases the shelf life of the juice. Several batch pasteurizers have been locally developed and adopted. However, with the batch system, a particular volume of product is processed per unit time. It is therefore very cumbersome for a processor with large volumes since they have to keep emptying and refilling the vat. It requires a lot of resources in terms of labour (Amit et al., 2017), time and energy to have large quantities of juice processed. The purpose of the study was to design, simulate, construct and assess the performance of the low-viscous juice continuous pasteurizer.
- Enhancing Value addition on Potato-Sorghum enterprises for Improved Livelihoods in Uganda (EVaPoSIL) -Prof. Johnny Mugisha. Potato (Solanumtuberlosum) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolar) are potential pathways for enhancing household incomes, food and nutrition security in South-western Uganda which is characterized by land scarcity, decreasing agricultural productivity, high post-harvest losses and low per-capita income. Potato and sorghum are the region’s main enterprises but their economic and nutrition potential are not fully exploited. Sorghum productivity and profitability are very low and potato harvest losses in form of non-marketable tubers are high. The project sought to enhance the value of both crops by innovative value addition that makes them complements, reduce harvest losses, increase incomes, and make available to consumers a diversity of high quality products. The overall objective was to improve the economic value of potato and sorghum enterprises for improved livelihoods of the value chain actors.
- Developing dry season feeding technologies for different cattle production systems in Uganda – Dr Justine Nambi-Kasozi. Scarcity, high cost and fluctuating quality of feeds are major constraints to sustainable cattle production in Uganda, particularly during the dry seasons. Use of crop residues plays an important role in reducing feed stress. However, most crop residues are bulky and low in nutrient content hence unable to support maintenance and production requirements of cattle. The objective of this project was to develop crop residue-based multi-nutrient blocks (MNB) and pellets to increase the intake and utilization of crop residues for dry season feeding.
- Digitalizing the Makerere University Soil Test Kit for rapid soil assessment, improved soil management, crop yields and incomes among farmers in Uganda – Emmanuel Opolot. Accurate assessment of soil is key for its sustainable use and management. The Makerere University Soil Test Kit (MAK-STK) comes in handy. It gives results of five soil parameters (pH, N, P, K and SOM) within minutes. However, the results from the MAK-STK are qualitative and thus hard for agricultural extension workers to advise farmers on how much nutrients to add to the soil. The project objectives were to (i) calibrate the MAK-STK with laboratory data for major soil types in Uganda, (ii) develop a digital platform through which the MAK-STK results can be quickly and easily translated to fertilizer recommendations and (iii) build capacity of the agricultural extension officers, farmers and fertilizer input dealers on the use of the Makerere University Soil Test Kit and its digital platform.
- Development of a Safe and Efficacious Anti-malarial drug from Traditional medicine -Prof. John Tabuti. Malaria is still a leading source of illness and death. In 2017, about 219 million suffered from malaria worldwide, with 92% of cases occurring in Africa. Malaria management is complicated by the fact that access is still limited in some places, and there is a possibility of treatment resistance.The goal of this research was to contribute to the development of a safe and efficacious anti-malarial. The specific objectives were: to compile a list of malaria treatment plants in Tororo District and prioritize them to determine the safety of the malaria treating plants.
- Deployment of the new Maksoy soybean varieties for on-farm income enhancement, Food and Nutrition security, Enterprise Development and Job creation in Eastern Uganda – Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa. Over the last 10 years, Makerere University developed six improved soybean varieties namely MAKSOY 1N, 2N, 3N, 4N, 5N and 6N. Unfortunately, the potential of the new MAKSOY soybean varieties had not been fully exploited due to limited farmer access to seed in addition to low skill set in soybean agronomic practices that subsequently leads to low yields. Further, each of the soybean varieties has specific attributes for protein, oil, maturity and yield in the field and efforts had been made to enhance their adoption in different parts of Uganda. However, the role of soybean in contributing to food and nutrition security of different households and communities in the country remains a critical challenge. This project focused on harnessing the value of the different soybean varieties through value addition using soymilk and soy flour for adoption by households, SMEs and also to set up a Soy Processing Unit at MUARIK.
- Improving access to biodiversity data for conservation decision making: A case of the National Biodiversity Data Bank, Makerere University, Uganda – Daniel Waiswa. This project sought to revitalize the NBDB as a one-stop biodiversity data centre enabling easy and fast access for sound biodiversity conservation decision making. The overall objective was to improve access to biodiversity data for conservation decision making while the specific objectives were to: increase stakeholders’ engagement and confidence in the NBDB for enhanced biodiversity data sharing and access, re-designing and operationalizing the NBDB Database for reception, storage and open access to data and enhancing and sustaining the staffing, capacity and infrastructure of the NBDB.
- A Pedal-Operated Seed Cleaner (PoS-Cleaner) To Boost Post Harvest Grain & Legume Quality, Increase School-Study time & Create Financial Freedom in Rural-Uganda – Peter Tumutegyereize. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) annually registers 40-50% of food Post-Harvest Losses (PHLs) worth US$4 billion with 41% and 26% respectively grains & legume losses in Uganda. Maize grains lost alone, could feed over 1.14 million persons for a full year. These losses along the food chain are greatly attributed to poor seed sorting or cleaning. Unclean seeds and foreign materials promote mold development resulting to dry matter loss, nutritional changes, seed quality loss, aflatoxin contamination and PHLs during storage and processing. Despite this, majority of small-scale farmers have no access to appropriate seed cleaning technologies. The available imported seed cleaners in Uganda are energy and cost demanding in terms of ownership, operation and maintenance. Farmers depend on traditional screening or winnowing which is inefficient, time consuming, labour intensive and dust exposure resulting into ill health. For rural schools that depend on in-kind food tuition contributions from parents, students traditionally clean seeds hence reducing their study time and educational performance. The study sought to create intermediate but appropriate post-harvest cleaning technologies.
- Developing an automatically controlled commercial solar-dryer and efficient resource recovery innovations for sustained market responsive fruit production in Uganda -Ahamada Zziwa. Food insecurity and poor livelihoods continue to prevail in Uganda partly due to high post-harvest losses, limited value addition options and low farm-gate prices particularly for perishable foods (FAO, WFP and IFAD, 2019). The lack of affordable preservation options contributes to over 30% post-harvest losses because majority of farmers have no access to electricity for processing and preserving perishable foods. Harnessing solar energy and its use for food preservation is a viable option for most off-grid farmers. However, the existing solar dryer designs are limited in drying efficiency due to absence of temperature and relative humidity controls which undermines their ability to ensure consistent physical and nutritional quality of dried products. Most dryers are also small drying capacity designs based on only solar light as the drying power which renders them unsuitable for large scale drying and uneconomical (Shaikh and Kolekar, 2015). The project aimed to: 1)design, construct, test and promote a sensor-controlled dual heat source (Hybrid) solar dryer to ensure consistent drying of reasonably large volumes of perishable produce; 2) investigate vermicompost recovery from pineapple waste and cow dung; and 3) optimise biogas production from pineapple waste.
- Development of Nutrient-Dense Recipes and Products from Underutilized Crops to Alleviate Malnutrition among HIV/AIDS Infected Persons in Western Uganda – Agnes Nabubuya. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a global pandemic that is currently affecting 3.7 million people worldwide of which 70% is found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Uganda continues to suffer from scourge of HIV with current prevalence at 7%. Healthcare of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Uganda is constrained by poor nutrition, with estimates of 25% suffering from malnutrition. This project addressed the challenge of malnutrition in PLWHA by using underutilized crops through development of nutrient-dense recipes and products. The research team analysed the nutritional composition of identified underutilized crops and developed nutrient-dense recipes and products for PLWHA.
- Strengthening the resilience and visibility of peri-urban poultry farmers in Wakiso for better marketing and profitability through feeding, post-harvest handling, value addition and resources recovery – Ahamada Zziwa. Globally, COVID-19 has had adverse impacts on the poultry value chain through infecting workers, farmers, stalling production, disrupting the supply chain, and thus affecting product demand. The lockdown led to socioeconomic restrictions and distortions in community dynamics, marketing and sale of products leading to huge losses in the poultry sector (FAO, 2020; Poudel et al., 2020). Transport restrictions to poultry farmers and closure of national borders, weekly markets, institutions, schools, hotels and restaurants, which were the main markets, left farmers with large quantities of unsold poultry products, resulting in financial losses especially to farmers without value-addition options and resources recovery innovations. The overall objective of the project was to strengthen the resilience and visibility of peri-urban poultry farmers for sustained poultry production, better marketing and enhanced profitability through innovative feeding, post-harvest handling, value addition and resources recovery.
- Optimized software for planning and simulation of food aid response during the COVID-19 pandemic and other similar disasters in Uganda – Fildah Ayaa. Covid-19 was declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020. First lockdown measures to contain the spread of the virus effected on 31st March 2020. Covid-19 lockdown disrupted food supply systems, causing food insecurity, especially in urban areas.Uganda’s government food distribution efforts were frustrated by poor planning for both food stock and manpower. Only 12 % of the total population received food aid during lockdown period. Of these, 24% were urban residents and only 7% lived in rural areas (Acayo,2020). The research team designed software for authorities to plan for food distribution during and after the Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda.
- Development of a Green Low Cost Touchless Handwash Technology (TW-20 Kit) For Public Shared Spaces – Joshua Wanyama. Effective hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds and limiting contacts are useful COVID19 preventive measures. However; the existing point-of-hand washing systems are ineffective in achieving the set measures as most of them require individuals to touch the units, have no mechanism in place to ensure hand washing with soap for the recommended time and are therefore prospective contagion points for the pandemic (WHO 2020). There was therefore, a need to develop a low-cost hand washing technology that automatically releases soap detergent without contact and allows users to rub and scrub the hands with soap for 20 seconds before water is released for rinsing. The project aimed to provide a safe water and hygienic technology to boost behavioural hand washing culture and reduce the risk of SARS-COV-2 human to human transmission in public shared spaces. The specific objectives were: i) to re-evaluate and modify the first prototype of TW-20 Kit V1.1 design customized for public settings, ii) to influence public behavioural change towards hand hygiene and product validation by undertaking a comprehensive pilot study in selected shared public spaces in Kampala Metropolitan Area.
- Design and development of an atomized spray drier for egg powder production for use in bakery industries of Uganda – Kivumbi Hussein Balimunsi. Due to the introduction of fast growing breeds of chicken in Uganda, there has been enormous production of high quality eggs, making the country one of the largest egg producers in the region. However, due to the outbreak of COVID19 and the subsequent lockdowns, the prices of eggs drastically reduced to nearly 5000 UGX per tray consequently affecting chicken farmers. This was further worsened by the lack of value addition to the available eggs leading to huge losses. This project sought to explore the utilization of spray drying in the production of high-value products from eggs in Uganda as a measure to minimize losses.
- Automation of communal hand water pumps to eliminate COVID-19 transmission – Nicholas Kiggundu.The research was motivated by the observation that alternative solutions of limiting the spread of COVID-19 such as washing hands with water and soap or use of chemical sanitizers are difficult to enforce especially in the low income rural and peri-urban communities where the boreholes are found. The researchers invented MAKNAI an acronym for the Makerere University – MAK NAyIkondo – vernacular for borehole, a prototype to automate cranking of the hand pump that draws water from a well. Designed by a team from the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (DABE), School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering (SFTNB), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) the prototype consists of a PV (photovoltaic) panel, battery, solar charge controller, inverter, motor, pulleys, belt, reciprocating arm and a foot switch. The foot switch serves to replace the use of palms and fingers to crank the pump handle, as is the practice while drawing water at boreholes.
- Empowerment of the Agro-Processing Industry to meet the Quantity and Quality Standards for the Local and Export Market; a Programme Enhancing the Practical Skills of Students in Makerere University – Julia Kigozi.
- Mountain Gorilla Tourism Re-examined: Implications of increased visitor numbers to the welfare and behaviour of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda – Prof. David Mwesigye Tumusiime.
- Developing Biofertiliser Formulations to Unlock Crop Productivity for Improved Food Security and Household Livelihood in Uganda – John Baptist Tumuhairwe
Remarks by the Permanent Secretary, MAAIF (Guest of Honour)
Addressing participants, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Maj. Gen. David KasuraKyomukama commended the innovations at CAES and Makerere University in general. He applauded Makerere University Management and Council for creating an enabling environment for research and innovations. Maj. General Kasura appreciated the Government of Uganda for the enormous investment in research at Makerere and other Institutions of Higher Learning.“With guidance from the President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni, the Government has invested heavily in research, one of the major drivers of economic development. The Government has supported the formation of various initiatives aimed at advancing research in the country. In particular, the Government has supported the creation of several research initiatives at Makerere University. This is highly commendable and a great stride towards transforming our economy,” he noted. He appealed to the researchers to invent more technologies to aid the production of quality agricultural products in the country. “We should always ensure our agricultural products are 100% free of aflatoxinto avoid reputational damage,” he advised. Maj. Gen. Kasura pledged support towards the commercialization of the research outputs. He urged the researchers to extensively disseminate their work, saying that knowledge that is not shared is useless.
The representative of the Chair, Makerere University Grant Management Committee, Prof. Isa Kabenge expressed gratitude for the support rendered by the Government, noting that the impact of the research projects is invaluable. Since Financial Year 2019/20, the Government through Mak-RIF has supported 711 multidisciplinary research and innovation projects across the 10 colleges of Makerere University. The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has obtained 79 projects across the three financial years.
In his remarks, the Principal, CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha applauded the researchers for the great initiatives. He extended appreciation to Makerere University Management, the Government of Uganda, and development partners for supporting the researchers to explore their full potential. “The research generated at the College is highly commendable and has played a critical role in shaping the national and global policies,” he said.
Similarly, the Deputy Principal appreciated the researchers, CAES Management, the University Management, Government and development partners for the support that has enabled the college to generate productive research.
The Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) is a funding stream to support generation and translation of high impact research and innovations to drive Uganda’s development Agenda. This initiative is funded by the Government of the Republic of Uganda.
Objectives of the Fund
- Developing and funding a robust research agenda based on National development priorities identified from academia, government, implementing partners, and industries.
- Supporting the dissemination of high-quality research and innovations in a way that impacts development policies and programs.
- Supporting the growth of research leadership capacity in the university.
Stakeholders to work with Academia to strengthen Education & Research in Biodiversity Conservation
On 16th November 2023, national and international stakeholders participated in the kick off workshop hosted at Makerere University to further consolidate various schools of thought aimed at producing a holistic and relevant graduate student equipped with practical skills, research and problem solving abilities aligned to Sustainable Development Goals.
The blended kick off workshop, which brought on board the academia, researchers, private sector, civil society, business community and graduate students set the pace for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Partnership Project titled: Strengthening Education and Research Capacity for Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resources Use.”
Expected to benefit over 350 graduate students and 20 members of staff, the SDG Partnership project that will be implemented by Makerere University (Mak) through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in collaboration with Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences (HSRW), and Central University of Technology (CUT) is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Welcoming the stakeholders to the kick off workshop, the research project team represented by Prof. John Tabuti from Makerere University and Ms Nele Vahrenhorst from Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences highlighted that the project seeks to contribute to the following SDGs:
- Poverty Eradication (SDG 1), Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Quality Education (SDG 4), Economic Growth (SDG 8), promoting sustainable consumption and production through developing business opportunities in natural resources use (SDG 12), Climate action through better management technologies and protection on natural resources and ecosystems reducing carbon emissions (SDG 13), as well as protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combat desertification and halt reverse land degradation and halt bio diversity loss (SDG 15).
Prof. Tabuti stated that the mode of delivery will prioritise the student using an approach referred to as ‘Student-centred learning.”
The main objective of the project is to enhance SDG research and teaching through a strong North-South-South partnership between HSRW, Mak, and CUT, so as to prepare graduate students for the societal challenges ahead, and the requirements of the job market. The SDG project partnership will ensure that university graduates are highly equipped with the necessary competencies to develop appropriate resource management responses, and implement optimum biodiversity conservation strategies as well as dealing with dynamic and complex business problems. The project will address the issue of environmental degradation hence poverty reduction, food insecurity, natural resource depletion, and climate change.
The project will focus on mainly Uganda, being the most bio-diverse country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 70% of its population relying on agriculture and use of natural resources. In addition, the loss of substantial parts of the natural habitat used in infrastructure development and extension is a major issue of concern. The research project states the urgent need to encourage the youths and students to foster their passion for SDGs premised on the rapid population growth in Uganda, with 50% of the population being under 16 years old.
Officially opening the kick off workshop for the SDG partnership project, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, represented by Associate Prof. Robert Wamala from the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training commended the physical and online participants for accepting to engage in this highly interactive workshop. He further underscored the need to conduct research aligned to the SDGs, national development goals, and global challenges.
The Vice Chancellor pointed out that biodiversity, despite sustaining the planet, faces unprecedented challenges including: Climate change, habitat loss, pollution, and unsustainable resource use. He highlighted education and research as the most formidable tools in addressing these challenges. He noted the role played by Makerere University through its 5-year Strategic Plan that aligns with the National Development Plan III (2020/21-2024/25), by contributing to our transformation into a “research-led” institution with a multi-faceted research agenda and enhanced engagement with industry players.
Associate Professor Robert Wamala concluded by informing the audience that DAAD has been instrumental in his career growth, having sponsored both his Masters’ and PhD studies. Currently serving as Deputy Director (Research Innovations and Partnerships) at Makerere University, he applauded DAAD for supporting research and capacity building programmes at Makerere University.
According to the Acting Head, Department of Environmental Management at Makerere University, Associate Professor Vincent Muwanika, the project will support practical training of students on problem identification, and staff in identifying and publishing local cases that are key in enhancing growth, not only at Makerere University but also in the private sector.
Associate Prof. Muwanika observed that the project’s alignment with SDG 15 will be guided by and greatly benefit from partnerships. He noted that partnerships are key in enabling us share and cross fertilize academic ideas and experiences, a feat that has kept Makerere University among top-tier research institutions.
Highlighting the importance of policies in churning out relevant products, Associate Prof. Muwanika commended the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for spearheading and overseeing policies and programmes that recognize, incentivize, and promote partnerships with industry, people and institutions outside Makerere University.
To further onboard the stakeholders, the project team leads namely Prof. John Tabuti and Ms Nele Vahrenhorst specified that the main activities of the project would include: improving the teaching material on courses that assemble natural resources for use, socio-ecological issues, data analysis, genetics, entrepreneurship, and sustainable tourism. The project will focus on capacity building of teaching and research staff on various methods, develop case studies on sustainable natural resources use, develop networks with non-academic actors, enhance student mobility to strengthen international perspectives, as well as promote inter-country inter-disciplinary learning exchange, incorporate higher education management, internationalization, digitalization as well as monitoring and evaluation.
Prof. Tabuti advocated for a strong stakeholder engagement for content development, research undertakings and case studies. “We have brought you on board because you are key people in the field. You are going to play an instrumental role in the development of case studies. Stakeholders will work with the academic staff to develop the content and teach our students,” said Prof. Tabuti.
In a highly interactive session involving a plenary and group sessions, the stakeholders contributed to the discussion on their needs and expectations regarding the graduate competencies and skills in biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resources.
Matters arising from the stakeholder workshop:
- With regard to the kind of graduates’ employers would wish to have, participants presented a number of qualities including: good communication skills, practical orientation, humility, openness to diversity, readiness to learn and unlearn, ability to adopt to work ethics, problem solving skills, articulateness, confidence with ability to collaborate, design thinking mindset, and innovativeness.
- In response to a question on how the partnership with stakeholders to support teaching and research shall be made possible, the participants presented proposals including: Identification of case studies linking to the lecture to be delivered, identification of key stakeholders, stakeholder engagement, identification of valid course content, design access and agreement on methodological approach to be used during the teaching and learning process, compilation of issues to be addressed before they are presented, design of a working document that can guide who does what, coming up with a team to develop a framework for developing the curricular.
- Responses to a question on how partners can collaborate in development of case studies included: contribution of knowledge to case study development, establishment of linkages with the community, identification of research gaps, sharing of available resources in public domain, documentation of intellectual property rights, collaboration in teaching and training of students, provision of internship opportunities, giving notifications for advance preparation.
During the presentations, stakeholders indicated the readiness to partner with Makerere University to contribute to the development of case studies and content production for lectures and community outreach.
Closing the kick off workshop, Prof. Tabuti conveyed his gratitude to Makerere University management for supporting the project. He acknowledged Ms Ritah Namisango, the Principal Public Relations Officer of Makerere University for moderating the workshop. He thanked Dr. Dorothy Nampanziira, Ms Ritah Namisango, Ms Aziidah Namatovu and Dr. Godfrey Mayende for the excellent coordination of activities leading to the successful hosting of the workshop. He also thanked the physical and online participants for actively contributing to the stakeholders’ workshop.
Dr. Bernard Obaa Appointed Ag. Head, CAES Department of Extension & Innovation Studies
Makerere University Council has appointed Dr Bernard Obaa Acting Head, Department of Extension and Innovation Studies, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). Dr Obaa takes on from Prof. Nelson Turyahabwe who has held the position for the last four years starting 2nd November 2019. Dr. Obaa is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies at CAES. He holds a PhD in Rural Sociology (Food systems, Agriculture and Environment and Social Change and Development) from Iowa State University, USA, and an MSc in Agricultural Extension and Education from Makerere University.
During the official handover ceremony held on 13th November 2023 at CAES, the Principal, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga appreciated the outgoing Head for his contribution. She congratulated the new Head and implored him to further strengthen the Department in line with the new strategic direction intended to transform Makerere into a research-led University, with more innovations to foster the country’s development.
In Prof. Turyahabwe’s four-year term of office, the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies has continuously registered improvement in the performance of students on the Bachelor of Agricultural and Rural Innovations programme. There has also been increased enrolment of students into the Masters of Science in Agricultural and Extension Education and PhD in Agricultural and Rural Innovations (PARI). Other achievements include; improvement in the completion rate of PARI students with the highest number of PhD students at CAES being from PARI. The Department has also reviewed curriculum for several programmes to meet the requirements of the Uganda National Council for Higher Education and Makerere University. These include; the Master of Science in Agricultural Extension and Education that has been renamed Master of Science in Agricultural Extension and Rural Innovation and approved by Senate. Both the Bachelor of Agriculture and Rural Innovation (Internal- BARI) and the Bachelor of Agriculture and Rural Innovation (External – BAXI) were reviewed and renamed Bachelor of Agricultural Extension and Rural Innovation.
The Department staff have won several research grants namely: Enhancing the Capacity of Faculty and Students on the Bachelor of Agricultural and Rural Innovation, External Degree Programme for E-Learning at Makerere University; the CAES Innovation Scholars Programme run in collaboration with Michigan State University’s (MSU) Borlaug Higher Education for Agriculture Research and Development (BHEARD) with support from MSU’s Global Centre for Food Systems Innovation. Other projects include; Diversity and Inclusion in Leadership Training between Makerere University and MSU’s African Studies Centre and Michigan Fellows Agribusiness Initiative (MFAI), supported by the Alliance African Partnership (AAP); and SECA (2019-2021) with support from Carnegie Cooperation of New York titled – Strengthening academic supervision and mentorship for enhanced completion rates of graduate students in the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies. There is also an ongoing project – Enhancing the Capacity of the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies to Facilitate E-learning and research through installation of the state of the art video conferencing system- Under consolidating Early Career Academic Programme (CECAP) at Makerere University. It is supported by Carnegie Cooperation of New York.
In his remarks, the outgoing Head, Prof. Nelson Turyahabwe appreciated the College leadership and staff, as well as programme coordinators for the support extended to him during his term of office. He also appreciated the incoming Head, Dr Bernard Obaa for accepting to take on the leadership of the Department, and pledged continued support to further strengthen the Department. Similarly, Dr Obaa appreciated Prof. Turyahabwe for his outstanding contribution towards the development of the Department and committed to build on the achievements registered thus far.
The handover ceremony was witnessed by the Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences, Dr John Baptist Tumuhairwe; the College Human Resource Office, Ms. Hawa Harriet; the representative from the Directorate of Internal Audit, Mr. Aggrey Luwuliza; and members of staff form the Department.
CAES Launches Graduate Management System
The CAES GRADCARE Management System is envisaged to enhance efficiency in the graduate production process, and to improve the completion rate in the stipulated time to 70%.
The CAES GRADCARE Management System
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has developed an online system to enhance efficiency of graduate management processes. The CAES GRADCARE Management System (http://gradcare.caes.mak.ac.ug/) was developed by a team of experts from the Directorate for ICT Support (DICTS), Makerere University led by Mr. Joshua Muhumuza and Mr. Arthur Opio. The system will enhance efficiency by creating a seamless workflow that improves supervision, reduces the lead time and costs for thesis examination, and yields meaningful data for decision making and a repository for graduate research. By doing so, CAES will unclog the production pipeline of graduate students and firmly contribute to the research-led agenda as stipulated in the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan of Makerere University.
The CAES GRADCARE Management System was officially launched by Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs (DVCAA) represented the Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT), Prof. Edward Bbaale at the College premises on 17th October 2023.
In his remarks, the DVCAA commended the CAES Management for the initiative. He described CAES GRADCARE as a remarkable management system for graduate studies that will support and streamline the path to timely completion. “This system represents a significant leap forward in unlocking the potential of graduate training at Makerere University. With CAES-GRADCARE, we now have the ability to monitor the progress of our graduate students seamlessly, from supervision and thesis submission to examination. This is a commendable achievement that will eliminate the complexities of paper-based reporting and enhance the efficiency of our graduate training processes. It is also a significant step forward in our quest to become a research-led and innovation-driven institution.” The DVCAA further noted that the System will aid the postgraduate department in planning their educational activities and facilitate improved data exchange between administrators and students. “To maximize utility of this system, it is essential to establish links with other existing systems, such as RIMS by DRGT and ACMIS for the academic registrar’s department. These linkages will ensure that information flows smoothly, eliminating conflicts or discrepancies.”
On behalf of DRGT, Prof. Bbaale expressed commitment to reviewing the institutional graduate strategy and policy, prioritizing internationalization through bilateral agreements with global partners, digitizing administrative processes, and encouraging flexible graduate training approaches such as modular, weekend, and online/blended programmes. “Our goal is to enhance resource mobilization, both internally and externally, and work towards international programme accreditation.”
The launch event was also graced by the Director, Quality Assurance at Makerere University, Dr Cyprian Misinde who commended CAES for developing the System. “The CAES GRADCARE Management System will make the students more productive and this will result into more and quality research output leading to improved ranking of the University.”
Highlighting the challenges that most colleges grapple with in managing graduate production processes, the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga said the CAES GRADCARE Management System is going to be a game changer in the training of graduate students.“In developing the CAES GRADCARE Management System, our target is to ensure we have a flawless graduate management process. With the system, no one will be left behind. Our target is to ensure no student spends more than the stipulated time on a programme.” The Principal also noted that the College was working towards increasing graduate students’ enrolment to 40 percent. She appreciated the DICTS for supporting the development of the GRADCARE System.
The Deputy Principal of CAES, also lead supervisor of the GRADCARE Management System, Prof. Yazhidi Bamutaze decried the continued delays in completion, noting that the backlog was clogging the system. “With the CAES GRADCARE System, all this is expected to change. There will be regular monitoring of progress on the side of the students and supervisors from the time of submission of the proposal to the time of examining the thesis. This will foster timely completion. As a College, we remain committed to take good care of our students and help them achieve their aspirations and goals.”
Following the development of the CAES GRADCARE Management System, the Deputy Principal noted that next step would be to retool and mentor staff on graduate students’ supervision. The College also intends to initiate formal platforms for regular interactions with graduate students at department, school and college level, improve operations of the graduate supervision and examination tracking system, and operationalize the graduate student timeline –Almanac.
How the system works
Step 1 – Proposal review
This feature starts when a registered student signs into the system and uploads their project proposal. The proposal is then reviewed by the student’s supervisors and thereafter endorsed. It is then moved to the level of Head of Department who appoints a review committee to handle the proposal. Finally the proposal is reviewed and endorsed by the head of the committee.
Step 2 – Intent submission
This feature starts by the student upon signing in, downloads the intent form from the system, reviews and fills it. The student then uploads the filled intent form to the system. This form is then reviewed by the student’s supervisors who then endorse it. It is then moved to the Dean who endorses it as well. The Dean then shortlists Examiners for the student who are sent for appointment by the Principal.
Step 3 – Thesis
This process starts when a student uploads their thesis onto the system. This is then reviewed and approved by the supervisors. The thesis then moves to the Head of Department who also reviews and endorses it. The Dean then reviews and endorses the thesis. The Examiner who was appointed to review the thesis does so and sends back comments if any.
Step 4 – Examiner appointments
The system allows the admin/Principal to appoint examiners for specific students as recommended by the Dean. The system allows the Head of Department to appoint a committee to review a student proposal.
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