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Finding new markets for Uganda’s Mukene fish

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It is a bright morning at Kyaliwajjala market on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. Dorothy Nakimbugwe, co-principal investigator of the ‘NutriFish’ project, is introducing food kiosk vendors to a new sauce made from a small pelagic fish called ‘Mukene’, or silver fish. 

Uganda has three main small pelagic fish species: Ratrineobola argentea (Mukene), Brycinus nurse (Ragoogi) and Engraulicypris bredoi (Muziri). They all contain important micronutrients, including iron, zinc and calcium, and vitamins such as A and D that are essential for human health. Nakimbugwe is promoting her team’s new silver-fish-based powdered sauce as an accompaniment with chapati (a flat bread made from wheat). She provides instructions on how to cook the sauce and, within minutes, the crowd is scrambling to taste this unique recipe for the first time. “No fish smell at all and it tastes good!” shouts a crowd participant. “The fish-enriched sauce cooks in 10 minutes. This is very important because in East Africa we consume a lot of beans, up to 60 kg per person per capita, but they take so long to cook, requiring a lot of time and fuel. So this sauce is very important because on top of being nutritious, it is also convenient and tasty,” enthused Nakimbugwe. 

Making the most of fish 

In 2019, the NutriFish project began with funding from IDRC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, through their joint program, Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF). The partnership involves the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at the College of Natural Sciences at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda’s National Fisheries Resources Research Institute, Nutreal Uganda Limited and McGill University in Canada. The aim was to discover ways to reduce Mukene post-harvest losses, as well as increase product quality, safety and accessibility. Another key objective was to improve distribution of this nutritionally important small pelagic fish to vulnerable groups who cannot afford expensive commercial fish, but who are in critical need of high-quality nutritious diets. 

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Natural Sciences

CoNAS Annual Report 2023

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Cover page of the CoNAS Annual Report 2023. College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

The College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS) is one of the 10 constituent Colleges of Makerere University with over 2,000 students and 153 members of staff spread across 2 schools and seven departments namely: School of Physical Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Geology and Petroleum Studies) and School Biosciences (Departments of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology; Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences; and Department of Biochemistry and Sports Sciences). The College is the cradle of basic sciences at Makerere providing a foundation for all applied sciences offered at the University. This report is a presentation of the performance of the College in 2023.

Key highlights include performance of the College at the 74th graduation of Makerere University, the award of an Honorary Doctor of Science to Prof. Leif Abrahamsson for his contribution to the development of Mathematics in the East African region, the development of an E-Supervision Web Portal (https:/mastersresearch.ug/) to support the tracking of Masters Research supervision processes, the formation and operationalization of the Biology Society of Uganda (BioSU), support rendered towards the development of aquaculture in the country, the development of five high-value nutritious products (baby food, sauce, maize meal, snacks, and seasoning) using Mukene through the NutriFish Project, the development of an application for tracking fish catches as a measure to prevent overfishing, development of solar tent driers – greenhouse-like structures that reduce the risk of contamination – provide clean and efficient storage and drying, especially during the wet season subsequently reducing post-harvest losses, equipping students and members of the general public with skills needed in the installation and maintenance of solar energy Photovoltaic systems and biogas plants, the Joint African- Nordic Conference in Mathematics, as well as the 2023 Eastern Africa Algebra Research Group and Women in Sage workshops. The report also highlights the research grants received in the course of the year, conferences held, community engagements, activities by students, awards received by the different members of staff, staff publications, and matters of Human Resources at the College.

Management conveys appreciation to all development partners and the Government of Uganda for the support extended towards the different projects at the College. We also thank the University Council and Management for creating a conducive environment for both staff and students to explore their full potential.

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Natural Sciences

Equipping Students with Bioprospecting and Product Development Skills

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Dr. Alice Nabatanzi, Lecturer, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Biosciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

By Dr. Alice Nabatanzi

As we train Scientists we ought to equip them with skills that will help them survive beyond the Laboratories, beyond University, and beyond Academia. Thus, the need to Bioprospect and acquire product development skills.

I am therefore proud of what my 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class has been able to achieve.

Following bioprospecting and entrepreneurial training, students developed the following products: Exotic beard oil, Herbal cough mixture, Power candy, Laundry bar soap, Moringa snack bars, Prudy Organic hair dye, Hair food, Syphilis remedy, Cornstarch based bioplastic, Nash probiotic drink, Dental care herbal mouthwash, Rosemary – lemongrass infused vinegar, Tea tree hand wash, Scented candles, Aloe fruit jam, Herbal bloom shower gel, Custard, Beetroot yoghurt, Dewormer, Stomach pain killers, Liquid organic fertilizers, Face scrub, Mosquito repellant scented air diffuser, Underarm whitening oil, Essential oil deodorant, Ria hair conditioner, Shower gels, Crochet jacket among others.

I am confident that with subsequent incubation, start-ups will emerge.


“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.”

Robert Greene


“Build your skills not your resume.”

Sheryl Sandberg

Dr. Alice Nabatanzi is a Lecturer of Phytomedicine and Nutraceuticals in the Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University.

Photo Gallery of some of the products

Pata Guard Herbal Dewormer. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Pata Guard Herbal Dewormer.
Lemongrass-Rosemary Infused Vinegar. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Lemongrass-Rosemary Infused Vinegar.
Avocorn. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Avocorn.
Jackfruit Seed Juice. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Jackfruit Seed Juice.
Pure Mint Mouthwash. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Pure Mint Mouthwash.
Exotic Beard Oil. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Exotic Beard Oil.
Crochet Jacket. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Crochet Jacket.
AvoGlow. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
AvoGlow.
Luxe Guard Scented Candles. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Luxe Guard Scented Candles.
Moringa Snack Bar. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Moringa Snack Bar.
Power Candy. Products from Dr. Alice Nabatanzi's 2024 Biotechnology Product Development Class, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, School of Bio-sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Power Candy.

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Natural Sciences

15 PhD Positions: Human River Systems in the 21st century

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15 New Positions Open in the FWF PhD Program "Human River systems in the 21st century (HR21)". Application Deadline: 2nd April 2024. Austria. Europe

Highly qualified applicants from all over the world are invited to apply for the PhD Program “Human River systems in the 21st century (HR21)”. The 15 positions are fully funded and the Doctoral Programme is providing additional resources for conference presentations, retreats etc.

The 15 PhD research topics are:

  • Topic 1: Role of hydrological extremes (floods) for sediment transport and morphodynamics in the human-river system
  • Topic 2: Material resources demand and flows of hydraulic structures to prevent societal impact of extreme events (social ecology, environmental history)
  • Topic 3: Intermittent flow – hydrological effects and impacts on benthic communities, ecological state and functioning of riverine systems
  • Topic 4: Drought, low flow and warming – hydrological effects and impacts on the ecological state and functioning of river systems
  • Topic 5: Water transit time distributions as indicators for the vulnerability of riverine ecosystems under different pressures from social metabolism
  • Topic 6: Analyzing possible contributions of re-activated former watercourses towards a more sustainable transformation of industrialized riverine landscapes in urban areas
  • Topic 7: The role of the latest industrial revolutions on instream processes and ecological vulnerability of IRL
  • Topic 8: The effects of infrastructure development on ecological and ecosystem service network properties in river systems
  • Topic 9: The impact of urban settlements on organic matter and nutrient flows in industrialized riverine landscapes – What can we learn from the past?
  • Topic 10: Urban metabolism, a river’s ecohydrology and industrialization: Vienna and the Danube, 1800-2000
  • Topic 11: Impact of external organic matter sources on nutrient, sediment and water transport from cropland into streams
  • Topic 12: Impacts of bioenergy crops used as riparian buffer strips on stream ecosystems’ functioning
  • Topic 13: Sustainable hydropower & and the water-energy-food nexus in multi-stressed IRLs: Challenges and solutions for science & management
  • Topic 14: Integrated modelling of farmers’ climate change impact and adaptation appraisal to inform regional human river nexus management
  • Topic 15: Strategic planning approaches to territorial governance of industrialized riverine landscapes

For more information, please visit: https://short.boku.ac.at/q9ry2k

Application deadline: 2nd April 2024

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