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Mak-CAES BioInnovate Project Registers Significant Achievements

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Smallholder farmers in Uganda and Kenya produce a variety of fruits, traditional and exotic vegetables, spices, and herbs that have unique nutritional, nutraceutical and functional properties. However, the value derived from these crops is limited due to postharvest losses, seasonal production, limited value addition and market access problems. Developing and applying affordable food preservation technologies could reduce postharvest losses by up to 68%. Additionally, food preservation by drying not only prolongs shelf life, but it also minimizes storage, transportation and packaging costs.

About the project

In 2017, Makerere University through the Department Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) received funding under the BioInnovate Africa Programme Phase II to implement a project titled;“Adaptation and Promotion of Refractance Window Drying Technology (RWDT) for Production of High Quality Bio-products”. The RWDT uses heat to dry fruits and vegetables, while maintaining the nutritive qualities. With RWDT, liquid foods, purees or slices are dried on one side of a thin plastic film, whose other side is in close contact with hot water at temperatures below boiling point. The plastic film, usually in the form of a conveyer, is susceptible to infrared radiation, therefore allowing thermal energy to be transferred from the water to the food. Transmission of infrared radiation stops when the food is dry, and the product scraped off the conveyor. The temperature of the product remains relatively low during drying, resulting in better quality retention due to reduced moisture content and inhibited microbial growth. The heated water is recycled, further improving thermal efficiency of the system.

The Project Leader, Prof. John Muyonga disseminating the research findings and outputs
The Project Leader, Prof. John Muyonga disseminating the research findings and outputs

Project duration and objectives

The three-year project worth 750,000 USD had been scheduled to end in December 2020 but was extended to June 2021 due to the outbreak of COVID19 and the subsequent restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic. The development objective of the project was to create new business opportunities in food value addition and agro-processing equipment fabrication. The project specifically aimed to develop a heat drying technology that is affordable yet yields high quality products, even from heat sensitive materials. It also aimed to; support local fabricators to make quality Refractance Window Drying equipment suitable for use by local agro-processors; improve the quality of products, mainly fruits, vegetables and herbs on the Ugandan& Kenyan markets; minimize post-harvest losses; increase the use of locally produced food ingredients derived from fruits, vegetables and herbs; and to enhance collaboration among farmers, agro-processors, researchers and support agencies.

One of the Refractance Window Drying Technologies created.
One of the Refractance Window Drying Technologies produced.

Project activities

Working with various partners namely; Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), TONNET Agro-engineering Company Limited, East Africa Nutraceuticals Ltd (EAN), Food and Nutrition Solutions Ltd (FONUS) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Uganda, Makerere University implemented several activities under the project. These included designing and fabrication of low cost dryers, techo-economic evaluation of the dryers, evaluation of the refractance window dried products, assessment of the capacity of agro-processors and fabricators; training of farmers, agro-processors, and fabricators; and training of graduate students.

Another version of the Refractance Window Drying Technologies produced.
Another version of the Refractance Window Drying Technologies produced.

Project closure workshop

On 22ndMarch 2022, the research team led by Prof. John Muyonga held the project closure meeting at which they disseminated the findings and outputs. The meeting held in the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering Conference Hall was graced by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Principal CAES, Dr Gorettie N. Nabanoga, the Programme Manager of Bio-Innovate Africa Programmes, Dr Julius Ecuru, and representatives of partner institutions.

The Hybrid dryer that employs Refractance Window Drying Technology.
The Hybrid Refractance Window Drying Technology (RWDT) Developed by BioInnovate Project Team

Achievements registered under the project

Disseminating the research findings, Prof. Muyonga noted that the project had registered significant achievements.

Guided by Prof. Muyonga, the project members including; Dr Julia Kigozi (Lecturer – Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Makerere University) Dr. Peter Tumutegyereize (Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Makerere University), Mr Shaffic Ssenyimba and Mr Raymond Mutumba (both MSc Students at Makerere University), and the TONNET Agro-engineering Company Limited team designed and fabricated several low cost refractance window drying machines. Additionally, the project team optimised the refractance window drying conditions for different products including passion fruit juice, pineapples, mango puree, jackfruit puree and cowpea leaves. They also developed protocols and guidelines for use of refractance window dried fruits as ingredients in foods. Using the RWD technology, the research team has produced a number of marketable products including – dried fruit slices, dices and strips; fruit powders; bread and cake containing refractance window dried fruits; as well as fruit gummies. The team is in the process of evaluating results for refractance window and solar dried pineapple slices. The team is also evaluating results for drinks produced from mixing refractance window dried pineapple powder in water, the different yoghurts, cookies and porridge made with different proportions of refractance window dried jackfruits, and breakfast cereal containing different proportions of refractance dried pineapple.

Some of the products produced using the refractance window drying technology
Some of the products produced using the refractance window drying technology

Other achievements registered under the project included; obtaining a Certificate of Grant of Utility Model from the Uganda Registration Services Bureau patenting the Electric and Biomass Powered Refractance Window Drying Apparatus invented by the research team; training of farmers in the use of Refractance Window Drying Technology and the use of RWD products as ingredients, training of 16 fabricators, training of 6 graduate students (2 PhD & 4 M.Sc.), refurbishment of facilities at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK); and publication of 12 articles in internationally recognized journals.

Articles published included;

(1) Adoption of the Refractance Window Drying Technology in the Drying of Fruits and Vegetables in UgandaJournal of Advances in Food Science & Technology, 1-10;

(2)Design and Evaluation of a Refractance Window Lab-scale DryerJournal of Engineering, Design and Technology;

(3) Techno-Economic Analysis of a Refractance Window Dryer Prototype Developed by Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute -Current Journal of Applied Science and Technology;

(4) Drying Behaviour and Optimization of Drying Conditions of Pineapple Puree and Slices using Refractance Window Drying TechnologyJournal of Food Science and Technology, 1-10;

(5) Optimization of Refractance Window Drying Conditions for Passion Fruit Puree;

(6) Optimization of Drying Conditions for Jackfruit Pulp using Refractance Window Drying technologyFood Science & Nutrition;

(7) Performance Analysis of An Arduino Based Calibration and Temperature Control System for a Refractance Window Dryer;

(8) Arduino based control of the Food and Water Conveyance Systems of a Refractance Window Dryer;

(9) Techno Economic Analysis of Refractance Window Drying of Fruits: A Case of Small-Medium Scale Agro Processors in Uganda;

(10) Physicochemical Properties, Sensory Acceptance and Storage Stability of Yogurt Flavoured with Refractance Window Dried Passion Fruit Powder –Asian Food Science Journal, 38-49; and

(11) Exploring the Potential of Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam), (2021) –Asian Food Science Journal. Page 97-117.

According to Prof. Muyonga, plans are underway to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between Makerere University and a private firm to oversee the utilisation of Refractance Window Drying equipment at MUARIK for commercial production of value added foods. “There are also plans to facilitate three agro-machinery companies – 2 in Uganda and 1 in Kenyato produce Refractance Window Dryers under the guidance of Makerere University and Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI). We also hope to engage development agencies to support farmer groups to procure Refractance Window Dryers,” he noted while explaining the research team’s commercialization arrangements.

Dr. Julia Kigozi explaining the design process.
Dr. Julia Kigozi explaining the design process.

Explaining the design process of the Refractance Window Dryer, Dr Julia Kigozi said the technology is mechanically simple, cheaper to purchase, energy efficient with high drying speed and low operational costs, and ensures retention of product quality. Dr Kigozi revealed that steps were being taken to promote the use of RWD technologies through Jazi Agro-processing Solutions Limited. Jazi Agro-processing Solutions Limited is a private company that specializes in food processing and doubles as a consultancy in regards to agro-processing solutions with a goal of promoting the agro-processing sector in Uganda. The company carries out training and mentoring on fundamentals necessary for the operation of agro-processing industries.

During the meeting, Mr. Raymond Mutumba shared the outreach and dissemination programmes conducted by Food and Nutrition Solution Ltd (FONUS) with regard to the Refractance Window Drying Technology.Based at the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, Makerere University, FONUS provides consultancy services in the fields of food value addition, community nutrition, food handling and hygiene, post-harvest handling of foodstuffs, facilitation of farmer group learning processes and project evaluations.The main purpose of FONUS’ engagement with the project was to promote uptake of the RWD technologies among end users. This was done through a series of engagements with farmer groups, small and medium agro-processors, and processors that utilise the RWD products and ingredients in foods.

Community engagements undertaken by FONUS included a situational analysis on the potential utilization of the Refractory Window Drier Technology in food value addition, training agro-processors in the use of hybrid RWD, and training of medium and large scale agro-processors in the use of RWDT in the drying of fruits and vegetables. In addition, FONUS conducted trainings on the use of RWDT products and ingredients and flavours in foods, and assessed the marketability of RWDT products.

The Vice Chancellor, Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe addressing participants.
The Vice Chancellor, Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe addressing participants.

According to Mr. Mutumba, the community engagements revealed that the RWDT presented a viable solution for preservation of fruits and vegetables in Uganda. The engagements also revealed that the incubatees were more willing to adopt the technology compared to already established processors. It was also discovered that more research needs to be done in RWDT energy efficiency if the RWDT products are to have competitive process on the market. The team called for government support to increase uptake of the technology, noting that individuals and small processor groups may not easily afford it.

Addressing participants, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe appreciated SIDA for the enormous support extended towards research and training programmes at Makerere University. “The University has reached the 1,000 mark of staff with PhDs, and almost half of these have been trained under SIDA,” he noted.  In addition to other research programmes, SIDA supports the BioInnovate Africa Programme. The Vice Chancellor applauded the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at CAES for the commendable initiative aimed at improving the quality and increasing shelf life of agricultural products in Uganda. “The products produced out of this initiative can be major exports for Uganda. We need to move towards commercializing our products. We however need to improve our marketing skills,” he explained while cautioning the research team on the importance of marketing the products. He also advised researchers to make use of the Intellectual Property Management Office at the University to patent their products.

Commenting on the significance of agriculture in the development of the economy, the Vice Chancellor said the CAES has a great role to play in improving the sector. Appreciating the research output at CAES, he called on the College to take lead in the establishment of a central business incubation unit to promote research and innovation at Makerere.

In line with 2020-2030 Strategic Plan that aims to transform Makerere into a research-led University, the Vice Chancellor said it was time to do things differently. “At the moment, Makerere is a research-intensive not research-led University. We have excelled in research publications. We need to move towards churning out companies if we are to make positive impact on our economy. You can remain top on research while churning out companies,” he explained, sharing an example of the University of Istanbul that churns out 300 companies per year worth about three billion USD, and is greatly contributing to the development of the country’s economy. The Vice Chancellor echoed the need for Makerere University to make contribution towards the Parish Development Model. “We will be judged harshly if we do not do anything to liberate our people,” he said.

The Principal of CAES, Dr Gorettie N. Nabanoga delivers her remarks at the workshop.
The Principal of CAES, Dr Gorettie N. Nabanoga delivers her remarks at the workshop.

In her remarks, the Principal of CAES, Dr Gorettie N. Nabanoga appreciated SIDA and BioInnovate Africa for the support extended towards the research project. She applauded the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering for always writing successful projects. “Despite the small number of staff at the School, they feature prominently in resource mobilization,” she said. She commended the project implementation team for the significant outputs and strong partnerships. “The project has all that is required to be considered successful and is key to obtaining practical solutions for the agricultural sector,” she explained, noting that CAES is academically productive due to the tireless efforts of staff in different units. Commending the quality of the research outputs, Dr Nabanoga said the project would significantly address the current market needs.

Dr Abel Atukwase, Dean School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering (SFTNB), CAES speaking at the workshop.
Dr Abel Atukwase, Dean School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering (SFTNB), CAES speaking at the workshop.

Like the Principal, the Dean, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, Dr Abel Atukwase appreciated BioInnovate Africa for the support extended to the project. He expressed gratitude to the Vice Chancellor for his unwavering supports towards programmes at CAES and the University in general. He congratulated the project team upon the worthwhile initiative.

The Head, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Makerere University, Dr. Ivan Muzira Mukisa, acknowledged the efforts of Prof. Muyonga in promoting research and innovation at the College and University in general. “The success we continue to register is largely due to the commitment of staff. Prof. Muyonga has been a key pillar in research, teaching and mentorship of students,” he said. Highlighting the different research initiatives, including the Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre as well as FONUS, Dr Mukisa said the School had greatly provided opportunities for the processors to improve their skills.

The Head, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (DABE), Makerere University, Dr. Ivan Muzira Mukisa, acknowledged the efforts of Prof. Muyonga in promoting research and innovation at the University.
The Head, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (DABE), Makerere University, Dr. Ivan Muzira Mukisa, acknowledged the efforts of Prof. Muyonga in promoting research and innovation at the University.

Delivering a presentation on government-academia-private sector partnership in technology development and promotion, the Representative of the Commissioner of Small and Medium Enterprises at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr Steven Mbogo Kirya thanked the sponsors of the project, as well as the partnering academic institutions for the efforts towards advancing agricultural technologies. He called for continued training of the youth and women in the utilization of new technology to boost the quality of agricultural products in the country.

The Programme Manager, BioInnovate Africa, Dr Julius Ecuru acknowledged the great work done by the research team, saying the project demonstrated that it is possible for academia, industry and government to work together to move ideas to the market. He commended Makerere University for winning 8 out of the 20 projects supported under BioInnovate Africa Programme Phase II. He pledged continued support for scientists in the region.

Dr. Gaston Ampe moderated the meeting.
Dr. Gaston Ampe moderated the meeting.

The workshop was moderated by Dr Gaston Ampe from the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, CAES.

About BioInnovate Africa

BioInnovate Africa is a regional innovation-driven initiative stimulating a bio-economy in eastern Africa. The initiative is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and implemented by International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). The initiative supports multidisciplinary teams of scientists, researchers, and innovators to co-develop and pilot innovative and economically viable bio-based ideas, interventions, and technologies. BioInnovate Africa offers grants for innovative bio-based research ideas and technologies with prospects for business and the market. While funding bio-based innovation projects remains the core activity of BioInnovate Africa, the initiative’s strategy now includes developing a knowledge-based bioeconomy in eastern Africa. This is built on the premise that collaboration at the national and regional level, and between researchers and private sector partners, is the surest way to translate scientific outputs into usable, and commercially scalable products and technologies.Current BioInnovate Africa partner countries are: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Mr. Raymond Mutumba presenting about FONUS engagement with the project.
Mr. Raymond Mutumba presenting about FONUS engagement with the project.

Please see Downloads below for presentations from the BioInnovate Closure Workshop

Agriculture & Environment

Improving Agricultural Services in Northern Uganda: Mak staff train 546 extension workers

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The Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyuchiny (c), the representative of Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (6th R) and the representative of the Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda (4th L) with some of the trained extension workers at the closing ceremony.

Makerere University has trained 546 extension workers from Northern and Eastern Uganda. The five-month training that started on 5th September 2022 and ended January 2023 has been conducted by academics from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), College Natural Sciences (CoNAS), College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University Business School (MUBS), and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). All the trainings were conducted at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK), and coordinated by Dr Bernard Obaa, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies at CAES. Through a programme titled; “Provision of Training Services to Technical Staff of Local Governments for improved Extension Service Delivery to Farmers in Northern Uganda” the extension workers have been trained in the areas of Integrated Pest and Disease Management, Climate Smart Agriculture and Postharvest Handling, Animal Feed Formulation and Dry Season Feeding, Fish Feed Formulation and Feeding, Animal Breed Improvement through Artificial Insemination, Fish Breeding and Hatchery Management, Apiculture (Queen rearing and breeding and value addition in honey), Farmer Institutional Capacity Development, Agribusiness and Market Linkages, and Financial Management.

The Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny delivering her remarks at the closing ceremony held at MUARIK on 27th January 2023.
The Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny delivering her remarks at the closing ceremony held at MUARIK on 27th January 2023.

The training was officially closed by the Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny at a ceremony held at MUARIK on 27th January 2023. The closing ceremony was attended by a number of dignitaries from the European Union, the Office of the Prime Minister, MAAIF, NARO Uganda, district local governments, as well as members of staff from Makerere University led by the Academic Registrar, Prof. Buyinza Mukasa who represented the Vice Chancellor.

Some of the extension workers that were trained.
Some of the extension workers that were trained.

Background to the training programme

While notable strides have been made to enhance household food and nutrition security, reduce poverty and improve household incomes through agriculture, Northern Uganda is still lagging behind due to the long-term insurgency that left many households disintegrated. Uganda’s Vision 2040, the National Agricultural Extension Policy (NAEP), the National Agricultural Policy (NAP) and the National Agricultural Extension Strategy (NAES) strategically place agriculture as a key driver to achieve socio-economic transformation in the country. The Northern Uganda Region has immensely benefited from massive investments in agricultural infrastructure, but dismal efforts have been made to enhance actual service delivery. As a result, functional extension systems that efficiently and effectively respond to challenges that farmers experience along the value chain of key agricultural commodities have not been given adequate attention in the region. Consequently, the farmers continue to be constrained in terms of accessing inputs and advisory services on modern agronomic practices and market opportunities. Although the district and sub-county extension officers are expected to provide this service, they have inadequate knowledge and skills to enable them render improved and relevant advisory and support services to farming communities.

The Academic Registrar, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi represented the Makerere University Vice Chancellor at the closing ceremony,
The Academic Registrar, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi represented the Makerere University Vice Chancellor at the closing ceremony,

Last year, the Office of the Prime Minister through the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) contracted Makerere University to offer the training services. DINU is a Government of Uganda programme supported by the European Union (EU) and supervised by the Office of the Prime Minister. It is a multi-sectoral programme aimed at improving livelihoods in 41 districts in the five sub-regions of Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Teso, and West Nile for a duration of six years (2017-2023). The 150.6 million Euro programme covers interventions in three interlinked sectors; (1) Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods; (2) Infrastructure (transport, logistics, water; and (3) Good governance.

The representative of the Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda delivering her remarks.
The representative of the Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda delivering her remarks.

Objectives of DINU

  • To increase food security, improve maternal and child nutrition, and enhance household incomes through support to diversified food production and commercial agriculture, through improving household resilience – notably to climate change, and through women empowerment
  • To increase trade of commodities within the region, in the country and within neighbouring countries through improved transport infrastructure
  • To strengthen capacity, gender-responsiveness, good governance and the rule of law at the level of local government authorities and empower communities to participate in improved local service delivery
Dr. Patience Rwamigisa, Director, Agriculture Extension Services at MAAIF emphasized the importance of efficient extension systems.
Dr. Patience Rwamigisa, Director, Agriculture Extension Services at MAAIF emphasized the importance of efficient extension systems.

Remarks by the Minister of State for Northern Uganda

Speaking at the closing ceremony held at MUARIK on 27th January 2023, the Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyuchiny, said the greatest challenge affecting Northern Uganda was over reliance on subsistence farming. “This has kept us in poverty. The training of 546 extension workers will help improve the situation. On behalf of the people of Northern Uganda, I extend our appreciation to the Office of the Prime Minister for this and many other interventions aimed at restoring peace in the region. I also thank the EU for funding the project, and Makerere University for offering the training services,” she noted.

The Minister handing over equipment procured for extension workers.
The Minister handing over equipment procured for extension workers.

The Minister handed over equipment to representatives of extension workers from 18 districts to support their activities. The equipment included motorcycles, GPS machines, Artificial Insemination kits, laptops & fish pond water testing kits procured by Office of the Prime Minister with support from the EU.

Extension workers and officials from Zombo District with their equipment.
Extension workers and officials from Zombo District with their equipment.

Remarks by the representative of Makerere University Vice Chancellor

On behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Makerere University Academic Registrar, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi appreciated the Office of the Prime Minister for the timely intervention. “These trainings have been conducted timely at the start of the implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM). We are confident the new knowledge and skills acquired through these trainings will enable the frontline extension workers to provide better support to our farmers. This will in turn enhance household food and nutrition security, reduce poverty and improve household incomes in the Northern and Eastern Regions that were severely affected by the LRA insurgency, he noted, expressing gratitude to the EU for supporting the programme. He also appreciated the Government of Uganda for supporting various development initiatives in the country. “With the wise guidance of the President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni, the Government of Uganda has so far extended support to 750 research projects at Makerere University worth UGX90 billion. Through these projects, our researchers have come up with a number of innovations that directly address community challenges.” Prof. Buyinza implored the participants to use the knowledge and skills acquired to improve service delivery in their respective communities.

Dr. Bernard Obaa from CAES (R) coordinated the training programme.
Dr. Bernard Obaa from CAES (R) coordinated the training programme.

Remarks from MAAIF

Dr. Patience Rwamigisa, Director, Agriculture Extension Services at MAAIF noted that efficient extension systems are critical for building strong agricultural systems. “The training is therefore timely. I thank the trainers from Makerere University for the job well done, and the European Union and Office of the Prime Minister for supporting the programme.

The Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences, CAES Dr John Baptist Tumuhairwe appealed to the trainees to use the knowledge and skills acquired to promote climate smart agriculture in their respective districts.
The Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences, CAES Dr John Baptist Tumuhairwe appealed to the trainees to use the knowledge and skills acquired to promote climate smart agriculture in their respective districts.

EU support

In his remarks, the Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda, Ambassador Jan Sadek said the EU had extended considerable support to different local governments with the aim of improving service delivery and livelihoods. “I want to thank all those who have participated in the training of 546 extension workers from Northern & Eastern Uganda. We hope the knowledge and skills acquired will lead to better agricultural practices”.

Some of the motorcycles procured for extension workers.
Some of the motorcycles procured for extension workers.

Representing the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, the Dean School of Agricultural Sciences, Dr John Baptist Tumuhairwe expressed gratitude to the Office of the Prime Minister for choosing Makerere to conduct the training. He appreciated the EU for the funding and the trainers for committing time to offer the service. He appealed to the trainees to use the knowledge and skills acquired to promote climate smart agriculture in their respective districts.

The extension workers expressed gratitude for the training noting that it would enable them perform their duties effectively. They appealed for refresher trainings and improvement of their working conditions.

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Agriculture & Environment

Mak Trains over 500 Technical & Extension Workers under DINU

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Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny (L) hands over some of the donated items to the district officials as Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (2nd L) and other officials witness on 27th January 2023 at CAEC, MUARIK, Makerere University.

On 27th January 2023, The Academic Registrar, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at the closing ceremony of the training of technical staff of local governments under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) program. The training was conducted by a joint team from the Colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-security (CoVAB), Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).

Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny (C) is received upon arrival at CAEC, MUARIK by Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (L) and the Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences, CAES, Assoc. Prof. John Baptist Tumuhairwe.
Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny (C) is received upon arrival at CAEC, MUARIK by Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (L) and the Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences, CAES, Assoc. Prof. John Baptist Tumuhairwe.

DINU is a Government of Uganda programme supported by a grant of 150 million Euros from the European Union (EU) and supervised by Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). It is a multi-sectoral programme aimed at improving livelihoods in 41 districts in the five sub-regions of Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Teso and West Nile for a duration of six years (2017-2023).

Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny (L), Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (R) and other officials stand for the anthems.
Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny (L), Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (R) and other officials stand for the anthems.

Over 500 technical and extension workers have received training in the field of integrated pest and disease management, climate smart agriculture, apiculture, post harvest handling, integrated soil fertility management, marketing, agribusiness and financial management.

The Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyuchiny (c), the representative of Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (6th R) and the representative of the Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda (4th L) with some of the trained extension workers at the closing ceremony.
The Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyuchiny (c), the representative of Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (6th R) and the representative of the Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda (4th L) with some of the trained extension workers at the closing ceremony.

The Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyuchiny was the Guest of Honour at the closing ceremony held at the Continuing Agricultural Education Centre (CAEC) of the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK).

The Academic Registrar, Makerere Univeristy, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi makes his remarks at the event.
The Academic Registrar, Makerere Univeristy, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi makes his remarks at the event.

The ceremony was attended by a representative of the Head of the EU delegation Ambassador Jan Sadek, Director of Agriculture Extension Services at MAAIF, Permanent Secretary OPM, and over 30 Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs). DINU will continue to partner with CAES to enhance knowledge, skills and practice in line with the Parish Development Model (PDM), which is aimed at serving as an engine for socio-economic transformation.

Some of the items donated after the DINU training for technical and extension workers included motorcycles.
Some of the items donated after the DINU training for technical and extension workers included motorcycles.

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Agriculture & Environment

Mak Hosts 2nd African Conference on Precision Agriculture (AfCPA) 2022

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Participants pose for a group photo during the 2nd African Conference on Precision Agriculture (AfCPA) held from 7th-9th December 2022 at Protea Hotel, Kampala, Uganda.

Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) represented by Dr. Patrick Musinguzi, a Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Production, hosted a satellite event of the 2nd African Conference on Precision Agriculture (AfCPA) from 7th to 9th December 2022, at Protea Hotel in Kampala, Uganda. AfCPA is a biennial event and an initiative of the African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI) in partnership with Muhammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA), and the African Association for Precision Agriculture (AAPA). The satellite event offered an opportunity for the local presenters and stakeholders to participate in the main conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, on issues of precision agriculture as a novel management approach for optimizing soil/crop health and productivity. The mission of AfCPA is to build a forum dedicated to “connecting the science and practice needed to put precision agriculture in action for Africa.”

Dr. Patrick Musinguzi, Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Production, CAES Makerere University, and organizer of the conference.
Dr. Patrick Musinguzi, Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Production, CAES Makerere University, and organizer of the conference.

The conference was sponsored by OCP Africa, Global Phosphorous Institute, 4R Solution Global Affairs Canada, Digital Agriculture Convergence Laboratory, and Investiv. The conference aimed at strengthening and supporting the precision agriculture community within the African context. The conference engaged stakeholders including scientists, policy makers, extension staff, crop consultants and advisors, agronomists and service providers towards a common goal of building the capacity and resilience of African cropping systems.

Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Deputy Principal, CAES, Makerere University.
Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Deputy Principal, CAES, Makerere University.

AfCPA partner organizations that served as national satellite site hosts included:

  • National Polytechnic Institute Félix Houphouët-Boigny (INP-HB), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
  • National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS), Cairo, Egypt
  • Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • CSIR-Savanna Agriculture Research Institute, Tamale, Ghana
  • Nassarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • Advanced School of Agronomy/University of Lomé (ESA-UL), Lomé, Togo
  • National Institute of Agronomic Research of Tunisia (INRAT), Tunis, Tunisia
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
  • Plant Production Sciences and Technologies, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Participants during day one of AfCPA conference.
Participants during day one of AfCPA conference.

Strategies to promote rapid adoption of precision agriculture

Education: Schools especially higher institutions of learning like universities should develop programmes and expand curricula to spur digital innovation and skills development of precision agriculture technologies and techniques.

Youth inclusion programmes: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) should focus on youth inclusion and create programmes targeted towards the youth to educate, train and challenge them to engage in precision agriculture advancement.

Strengthening collaborations and knowledge sharing: Local organizations and international bodies should develop partnerships that ensure cross-fertilization of knowledge, ideas, and technologies in precision agriculture, with youth in the picture.

Research engagement: The youth are the powerhouse of innovative ideas and they posses the stamina needed in research that would advance precision agriculture. Research programmes must be developed to target and leverage the strength of the youth in Africa.

Policy Development: Government at all levels must develop policies and regulations that favour the advancement of precision agriculture in Africa, while encouraging the youth to lead with technology development and start innovations that promote precision agriculture.

Finance towards research and youth-led AgTech startup/SMEs: Precision agriculture product development especially in the African local context requires generous funding to prototype. Therefore funding is critically important to cause significant progress and to speed up precision agriculture in Africa.

Community engagement: The concept of precision agriculture comes with ideologies and it is vital to use the power of community engagement to bring about ideological change for rapid adoption of precision agriculture in Africa. The youth are valuable agency to deliver this change. When the youth accept precision agriculture, they easily influence the narrative its favour.

Dr. Mildred Ochwo, Head, Department of Agricultural Production, CAES.
Dr. Mildred Ochwo, Head, Department of Agricultural Production, CAES.

In her remarks, Dr. Mildred Ochwo, Head department of Agricultural Production, CAES said strengthening Networks would greatly boost precision agriculture in Africa.

Participants during day two of AfCPA conference.
Participants during day two of AfCPA conference.

The Deputy Principal of CAES, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze cited the need to embrace and optimize emerging technologies intended improve agricultural productivity. Prof. Bamutaze aslo noted the need for Uganda’s commitment to collecting quality data. “We need to redirect our efforts to data collection consistently in a clean way for science to work. With poor quality data you can not run simulations or models, and targeted interventions. We all have to work together towards this,” he said. According to Prof. Bamutaze, Uganda as a country is increasingly appreciating technology, and with leadership, we can work together, setup trials to ensure that what we are doing goes to the next level.

Participants during day one of the satellite event.
Participants during day one of the satellite event.

Prof. Bamutaze noted that the College was keen to work with partners, through student-staff mobilities. Prof. Bamutaze appealed to government for funding in order to produce competent students. “We can’t develop the country without good capital base, which requires resources,” he said.

Participants during day two of the satellite event.
Participants during day two of the satellite event.

According to Mr. Fred Kabango, Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the ministry has undertaken many initiatives like climate smart agriculture, geared towards addressing the effects of climate change. Mr. Kabango called for adoption of precision agriculture as a measure to improve productivity. In achieving NDP Goal 3, on industrialization, were, one of the pillars is to increase production and productivity, Mr. Kabango emphasized the need to look at agriculture as business, and to retool farmers with the best agricultural practices.

Mr. Fred Kabango, Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).
Mr. Fred Kabango, Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

Mr. Paul Senyange, Project Manager E-services, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U) presented an assessment of how the Authority can support the implementation of precision agriculture through Agriculture technology initiatives discussed in the conference. Mr. Senyange presented a number of ideas on how NITAU can support the initiative including: creating an enabling environment with special focus on necessary laws, connecting through the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI), supporting data sharing and security through the UGHUB which is a Government integration platform, supporting unit hosting of applications in the current cloud data centre, and supporting innovations and e-services in the precision agriculture space.

Mr. Paul Senyange, Project Manager E-services, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U).
Mr. Paul Senyange, Project Manager E-services, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U).

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