The NutriFish Project under the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University was announced winner of the Fisheries Innovations Award 2023 at the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Awards (SFA) ceremony held on 30th June 2023 at Fairway Hotel, Kampala.
Organized by the Sustainable Fisheries Initiative (SFI), the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Awards (SFA) seek to celebrate East Africans (individuals, projects, institutions, and organizations) who devote their time, expertise and passion to a sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sector. Across 15 categories, this annual event celebrates and acknowledges regional champions working in fisheries as well as nature protection, climate action and care for communities while supporting food security and nutrition, sustainable economies, sustainable societies, sustainable environment, gender equity and equality. The SFA Awards look at major categories which include; Best Fisher of the Year, Best Landing Site of the Year, Innovations Award, Blue Heroes Award, Life time Achievers award, Young Fisheries Entrepreneur Award, Sustainable Fisheries Community Award, Green Cities of the future Award, and Women Achievers award.
The SFA awards seek to take forward the recommendations from the celebrations of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 that arose from the International Conference on Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (ICAFA) held in September 2022 in Jinja.
The award criteria consisted of three stages: 1) nominations by independent parties; 2) voting for the nominees by the fisheries fraternity which took one month ending on June 20th 2023; and 3) Rigorous evaluation of contributions of the nominees by a committee consisting of Sustainable Fisheries Initiative, the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and its agencies.
About the NutriFish Project
Limited access to micronutrient-rich foods and animal protein is a key factor behind nutritional deficiencies in Uganda. It is recommended individuals consume around 25 kg of fish per year; yet, in Uganda, currently only half this amount is consumed – and intake is anticipated to further decline as the population grows.
Supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through their joint programme, Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF), NutriFish aims to address the nutritional needs of vulnerable groups that cannot afford expensive commercial fish but are in critical need of high quality nutritious diets. The Project is coordinated by Dr Jackson Efitre, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, CoNAS, Makerere University.
Through the Project, researchers from Makerere University together with their partners from the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) – National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), NUTREAL Limited and McGill University, Canada in 2019 set out to increase the availability, accessibility and consumption of Small Pelagic Fishes (SPFs) for sustainable food and nutrition security and better livelihoods of vulnerable groups in Uganda. The project has over the years registered significant achievements.
NutriFish Project Achievements
- Formulation of fish-enriched foods for vulnerable consumer groups using small silver fish (called ‘Mukene’) and fish by-products.
- Reduction of post-harvest losses by using cost-effective solar tent driers and fish containers with drainage.
- Training ‘champions’ to spread awareness about good handling and processing practices and nutritional value of small fish.
- Development of an app – electronic Catch Assessment Survey (eCAS) – to provide real-time monitoring of fish catches with smartphones.
- Five high-value nutritious products (baby food, sauce, maize meal, snacks, and seasoning) were developed by NutriFish using Mukene. Containing high levels of key micronutrients (calcium, zinc, iron), Mukene has been used to increase available fish-enriched products to the nutritionally vulnerable and improve diet diversity. A 50g portion of the baby food flour provides more than one-third of a child’s daily protein, iron, zinc, and folic acid requirements.
- Evaluated by 300 street vendors and 60 retailers in Kampala, the sauce garnered positive feedback for being quick to cook, which helps low-income families save time and energy resources. A Mukene recipe book, containing 16 recipes rich in protein, calcium, zinc, and iron, was also developed and endorsed by the Minister of State for Fisheries.
- Fishers have been helped to access loans to purchase boats and fish containers which improve hygiene and quality by improving drainage and reducing compaction of fish. Two enterprise fishing groups with over 70 boats have been established and are working together – an approach which ensures more consistent supply and standards, and results in over 3.7 tons of fish caught each month.
- By September 2022, 8,960 records of catch data had been collected and transmitted through the eCAS system by trained local enumerators. Over 200 stakeholders are using the application, including the Directorate of Fisheries Resources and the Fisheries Protection Unit, which uses the data to help prevent overfishing.
- Solar tent driers – greenhouse-like structures that reduce the risk of contamination – provide clean and efficient storage and drying, especially during the wet season, were also introduced. As well as reduced drudgery for women, the increased fish quality has doubled their incomes, from US$1 to US$2/kg, and tripled the shelf-life of dried small fish to almost five months. The driers have also attracted the attention of policymakers, with the Sectoral Committee of Parliament on Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries specifically recommending their use in April 2022 for improving fish processing.
- To encourage consumption of Mukene products, NutriFish developed a radio-based awareness campaign. More than 12 million listeners were reached by 29 different ‘spot’ messages in local languages and four 15-minute in-studio conversations – a significant step in tackling long-standing social beliefs that Mukene is a food only eaten by poor families or animals.
- The project also conducted awareness training with 326 people (200 women) to reduce gender inequalities. As a result, domestic violence dropped by 30%, the number of women in the fish value chain increased, more couples began to make joint household decisions, and more men carried out household tasks, increasing from 15% to 20%.
Mak Paves Path to Biodiversity Leadership: Inaugural ABS Project Workshop Strengthening Uganda’s Nagoya Protocol Capacity
By Laban Lwasa
In a groundbreaking event that unfolded at Makerere University‘s Telepresence Center on November 7, 2023, the Inception Workshop for the ABS Project took center stage, hosted by the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology, and Biotechnology. Prof. Tumps Ireeta, Principal of CoNAS, set the tone with a warm welcome, highlighting Uganda’s rich biodiversity and the pivotal role of the Nagoya Protocol in ensuring the legal utilization of genetic resources. The collaboration between NEMA and Makerere University, supported by the GEF, aims to equip professionals with ABS knowledge and position Makerere at the forefront of Nagoya Protocol compliance.
Prof. Arthur Kajungu Tugume, Dean of the School of Biosciences, emphasized the project’s significance in institutional capacity strengthening for the Nagoya Protocol’s implementation in Uganda, showcasing the School of Biosciences as a hub for genetic resource research and training. The pilot project, in collaboration with NEMA, GEF, and UNEP, aims to expand countrywide and potentially across the African continent. It seeks to empower a skilled workforce informed on ABS issues, contributing to economic development and poverty eradication as aligned with SDG 1.
Mr. Achuu Peter, Project Manager from NEMA, highlighted Uganda’s extraordinary biodiversity and the need to explore the benefits of genetic resources for medicines, food, and more. He emphasized the importance of the Nagoya Protocol in mitigating biodiversity loss and highlighted challenges faced by Uganda in terms of weak institutional capacity, inadequate policies, and lack of coordination for ABS. The project focuses on strengthening ABS frameworks, capacity building, community-level management, and raising awareness to ensure equitable benefits from genetic resource utilization.
Mr. Daniel Abowe, UNCST ABS Project Officer, shed light on the complex landscape of national ABS laws in Uganda, resulting in legal complexity and high transaction costs for users. He also detailed the Uganda research approval process, emphasizing UNCST’s role in ABS implementation, which includes issuing access permits and ensuring benefit-sharing agreements. The multifaceted project aims to align Uganda with the Nagoya Protocol’s goals and foster collaboration between higher institutions and local communities for the management of genetic resources.
Dr. Katuura Esther, the Project Principal Investigator at Makerere University, highlighted the institution’s pivotal role in training and research. Makerere University aspires to be a thought leader, committed to providing transformative teaching, learning, research, and services that cater to dynamic national and global needs. The institution’s strategic goals encompass leadership in high-quality programs, knowledge dissemination, research, scholarship promotion, and corporate social responsibility. Dr. Esther also addressed the challenges and opportunities in preserving indigenous knowledge, emphasizing the role of digital technologies and collaboration between research institutions and local communities.
The programs designated for updating at Makerere University are a comprehensive effort to align with the Nagoya Protocol. Notable among these programs are BSc Applied and Economic Botany, BSc in Conservation Biology, Bachelor of Biotechnology, Masters in Botany, Masters in Genetics, Masters in Plant Pathology and Crop Science, and Masters in Economic Botany. This holistic approach aims to contribute to the conservation and equitable utilization of genetic resources.
Dr. Cyprian Misinde, the Director of Quality Assurance at Makerere University, emphasized the importance of incorporating international and global standards into the academic curriculum. He underscored the crucial role of projects like ABS in enhancing the capacity of professionals and equipping them to become part of a globally competitive workforce. This workshop marked a significant stride in Uganda’s journey towards sustainable biodiversity management and conservation, creating a ripple effect that extends far beyond its borders, leaving a lasting impact on the world stage.
Laban Lwasa is the Senior Administrative Assistant, Makerere University, Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU)
Ugandan student Dorothy Akoth wins 2023 GBIF Graduate Researchers Award
Ms. Dorothy Akoth, a Master’s student at the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University has been named one of two winners of the 2023 GBIF Graduate Researchers Award. An expert jury selected Akoth, who was nominated by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology together with National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), for the instrumental role of her research in improving the knowledge of the distribution and imperilment status of 110 native fish species outside the iconic Haplochromine tribe of East African cichlids. The student was supervised by Prof. Fredrick Muyodi and Dr. Jackson Efitre
from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at CoNAS, Makerere University, and Dr Vanny Natugonza of Busitema University.
Since its inception in 2010, the annual GBIF Graduate Researchers Award (previously the Young Researchers Award) has sought to promote and encourage innovation in biodiversity-related research using data shared through the GBIF network.
CARTA Fellow Anywar Selected as Fellow of ASLP
Godwin Anywar (cohort 6 graduate, Makerere University) was selected as a fellow of the Africa Science Leadership Programme (ASLP) based at the Future Africa Campus at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, on September 8, 2023.
Within the month, he:
- Will be participating in the Uganda-Swiss Museum Cooperation Workshop from September 24 – October 4, 2023, in Kampala, Uganda, and will present on ‘Traditional Medicine in Transition.’
- Presented a keynote paper on ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing during the PhD Journey’ at the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) 27th Annual International Management Conference (AIMC) under the theme “Leveraging Governance, Human Capital and Technology for Sustainability in Kampala – Uganda on September 25 – 27, 2023.
- Presented a paper on ‘The Cannabis/Marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) Landscape in Africa: An Overview of its Cultivation and Legal Aspects’ at the 20th International Napreca Conference on Natural Network for East and Central Africa (NAPRECA) in Harare, Zimbabwe on September 20, 2023.
- Attended the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Science Forum at the University of Nairobi on September 20, 2023, to celebrate 50 years of DAAD in East Africa.
Source: CARTA Newsletter Issue 69
General6 days ago
Application Forms for Admission to Public Universities 2024/2025
General1 week ago
African Universities urged on developing comprehensive safeguarding policies with critical elements of safety & protection
Agriculture & Environment2 weeks ago
RUFORUM 19th AGM Urges Africa to Take the Lead on Climate Action
Agriculture & Environment6 days ago
Soybean Breeders Deliberate Strategies for Improving Productivity
Humanities & Social Sciences2 weeks ago
Anthems of the World Concert for the United Nations Day, 2023, in Uganda