Following the Ugandan government’s announcement in 2016 that banana xanthomonas wilt (BXW) disease was under control, national-level anti-BXW support dwindled to the point of leaving farmers effectively on their own to continue controlling it. This qualitative case study utilizes data from group and individual interviews, as well as observational walkthroughs of plantations, in one of the previously hardest-hit BXW regions of Uganda to explore farmer perceptions, experiences, and compliance around still-mandated anti-BXW change-behaviours in rural Uganda. Analysed through a lens of increased support for the social pillar of sustainability, the findings identified two central themes arising from inadequate or non-existent local farmer support for anti-BXW efforts in the area: (1) a socially time-prohibitive aspect of the change-mandates, and (2) an insufficient or non-existent reach of anti-BXW messaging to farmers. Discussion and recommendations for more socially sustainable pathways for messaging anti-BXW behavior-changes to Ugandan farmers are included.
Key words: Banana, banana xanthomonas wilt (BXW), Uganda, food security, sustainability.
Hon. Dr. Musenero to PhD Fellows: “Publish or Perish” Unviable
On 11th August 2022, the University Administration held an orientation ceremony for PhD Fellows at Makerere (PF@Mak) based on the theme, “Linking Research to Industry for Socio-economic Development of Uganda.” Held in the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) Conference Hall, the orientation was graced by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero, who also delivered a keynote address on the theme. In attendance were; the Minister of State for Gender and Culture, Hon. Peace Regis Mutuuzo who is also a PhD candidate, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Prof. Umar Kakumba, and the Director Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DGRT) and Patron PF@Mak, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi.
Also present were the Director Directorate for ICT Support (DICTS), Mr. Samuel Mugabi, Deputy University Librarian Dr. Ruth Nalumaga, Deputy Dean of Students, Mr. Peter Rivan Muhereza, Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Assoc. Prof. Josephine Ahikire, Deputy Principal CEDAT, Assoc. Prof. Venny Nakazibwe and the Head Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi among others.
Keynote address by the Minister
Hon. Dr. Musenero in her keynote address challenged the PhD Fellows to go beyond the culture of “publish or perish”, noting that it was time for them as creators of knowledge to align their research with the Government’s eight priority industrial value chain areas. These include; Pathogen Economy, Mobility, Aeronautics and Space, Industry 4.0+, Infrastructure Innovation, Productivity Acceleration, Import Substitution, and Value-added Exports.
“Every time you buy something imported, you cost us jobs,” she remarked. “I don’t know a better place to begin than here. I hope that after today some of you will go back and change your research topics” added the Minister.
Challenges affecting innovation
She nevertheless acknowledged that the current state of affairs is attributable to four main challenges namely; an unfavourable ecosystem, an incomplete education system, a limited ability to develop systems and an absence of priortisation systems.
Hon. Dr. Musenero expounded that the unfavourable ecosystem has been consistently inculcated by a culture that does not support innovation, but instead prefers what is imported over locally produced goods. This is exacerbated by the incomplete education system, designed to create technicians who are consumers of imported goods or users of existing knowledge.
“Our curriculum doesn’t teach how to develop but rather how to consume… It’s up to you PhDs to create a curriculum and content that will drive us to attainment of Vision 2040… We import textbooks and yet every PhD should be a textbook” she pointed out.
Furthermore, the Minister noted that our limited ability to develop homegrown systems is one of the reasons why we struggle to change things. This, she said, could be attributed to and education that does not teach us how to create systems but rather use existing ones. A case in point, she noted, was our local enterprises that don’t thrive because the owners take over the role of systems. The absence of prioritisation systems is closely tied to the above scenario, causing us to struggle with setting priorities both corporately and as individuals.
The way forward
Having cited the aforementioned challenges, Hon. Dr. Musenero was nevertheless willing to participate in any initiatives to reorient PhD training through the teaching tracks on innovation and development of systems as well as producing graduates that are principled and less reactive.
She noted that by aligning their PhD work to the Government’s eight priority industrial value chain areas, Fellows will have something to look forward to further pursing after graduation, unlike the all-too-common scenario where theses are treated as burdens to be borne and offloaded at the next best opportunity.
Giving examples of the dynamic work currently underway, the Minister shared that the Government is in advanced stages of producing vaccines for both humans and animals, putting up a facility to develop PCR test kits, and fine-tuning the diesel engine fabricated by Makerere researchers and local artisans.
Furthermore, on the Aeronautics and Space front, seventeen (17) personnel have been trained, eight (8) being PhDs, and work is currently underway to launch Uganda’s first satellite in September 2022 and set up the National Space Agency at the Mpoma earth station in Mukono District.
Hon. Dr. Musenero reassured the audience that Uganda is naturally endowed with minerals, and has some of the best sand in the world at Lwera in Mpigi District. The sand, she said, will be a useful raw material for the manufacture of semiconductors, with efforts currently underway to begin manufacturing chips by November 2022.
On the productivity acceleration front, the Minister introduced Dr. Joshua Isiko, Team Leader for Makerere University, as the go-to person. “We are going to have a hub at the University, which is our STI Office; run on our principles and on our value system. We are going to put this at every University.”
Using the example of the mobile phone that took over 30 years to move from prototype to an affordable gadget costing approximately UGX 30,000, she encouraged innovators to be resilient and never give up on their ideas, no matter how tough the going gets. “Keep working on it (your innovation), don’t go for the easy way. Everybody goes for the easy way but the things which generate successful industries are those which choose to flatten the path because they are solving a problem.”
Remarks by University Administration
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked Hon. Dr. Musenero for accepting the invitation to preside over the orientation ceremony and deliver the keynote address. He said that Makerere is mindful of the contribution that highly trained human capital makes to national development and shared the University’s efforts to train PhDs. Makerere produced 100 PhDs at the 72nd Graduation Ceremony held in May 2022 and 108 PhDs at the 71st Graduation Ceremony in May 2021.
Prof. Nawangwe nevertheless appealed to the Minister to follow up with the Head of State on the request for Government to fund Masters and PhD studies or set aside study loans for the same. He also requested for a follow-up on the request to declare Makerere a Research University.
In his remarks, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi informed PhD Fellows that Patent work can be used to meet the publication requirement, with each patent work equivalent to three (03) publications.
The University Administration appreciated the work done by PF@Mak particularly the President Mr. Ahabwe Gerald, who constantly engages them on matters related to PhD students. Fellows were reminded that PhD completion is dependent on the Quality of Student, Supervision, and Administration. They were therefore urged to do their part and then engage the administration to support supervision and enabling policies.
PhD Fellows were further informed that the University is not waiving time lost due to COVID-19 disruptions. Candidates with justifiable reasons were nevertheless encouraged seek hearing on a case-by-case basis.
Publication is an integral part of the PhD journey. Fellows were therefore encouraged to make use of Internal University and Regional Journals to have their work published. They were equally reminded that cross-cutting courses are intended for all PhD students, irrespective of whether one is admitted on a PhD by Research or Course work and Dissertation.
The PF@Mak President, Mr. Ahabwe Gerald emphasized the need for the Administration to take advantage of the knowledge and skills possessed by PhD students, to help achieve the set strategic goal of transforming Makerere into a research-led University.
Additional reporting by Namaasa Aeron
Announcing the Makerere-Bergen Research School (MBRS)
For the past 15 years, the Bergen Summer Research School has welcomed 100 PhD students to spend two weeks with some of the best researchers in Bergen.
As part of activities to celebrate 100 years of excellence and 35 years of close collaboration with the University of Bergen (UiB), we are thrilled to announce the Makerere-Bergen Research School (MBRS), open for students worldwide to be hosted by Makerere University, with a hub for participants at UiB.
Dates: 28th November to 9th December, 2022
Parallel PhD Courses:
Sustainable Food Systemsby Inger Måren, UiB
Access to Water and Water for Productionby Tore Sætersdal, UiB
A rapidly changing climate and an environment under severe threat affects us all. Combined with the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and increased level of conflict, the world must find solutions through joint research and global dialogue.
With the UNESCO Biosphere reserve at Mt. Elgon in Kenya as a case study, the participants will discuss how we may approach these challenges in a coherent and cross-disciplinary way.
Definitions and understandings of global challenges are many. The United Nations has formulated the Sustainable Development Goals, the World Economic Forum publishes Global Risk Reports, and the UNDP has its frequent Human Development Report. For MBRS such measures will be points of departure, rather than frameworks, for critical reflection and debate.
The Makerere–Bergen Research School is organised with funding from the Bergen Summer Research School, which is a partnership of NHH Norwegian School of Economics, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Chr. Michelsen Institute, and NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS, under the leadership of the University of Bergen¾and now in partnership with Makerere University.
We all play our part in addressing global challenges and developing skills and initiative to promote a sustainable future. The two partner institutions both contribute resources and knowledge into the research school, which will build on ongoing research.
The Makerere-Bergen Research School is hosted by Global Challenges at UiB.
Africa Strategic Research and Education Partnerships Fund
The Africa Strategic Research and Education Partnerships Fund aims to help kick-start new, innovative research and education collaborations that might not otherwise be pursued. The Fund promotes and supports early-stage collaboration among academics, researchers and students at Imperial, the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and/or members of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).
The fund has two streams:
- Online experiential education
Applicants are invited to apply for either one stream or a combination of both. There is a maximum of £10K available per project (including dual stream projects).
Please click below to access the full details:
- Deadline for the submission of applications: 16 September 2022 (Fri)
- Release date of the results: 10 October 2022
- Start date of the awarded projects: 11 October 2022
- All awarded projects must end by: 31 July 2023
Proposals must be submitted to email@example.com. Only applications submitted to this e-mail address and before the deadline, will be considered.
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