*****Funded by the Danish Fellowship Centre under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark, the Project, Nature-based Solutions for Climate-Resilient Tea Production in Uganda (NbS4Tea), is envisaged to sustainably bridge the tea yield gap in Uganda by developing research-based NbS for enhanced climate resilience of tea production systems.
Tea is a widely consumed and one of the oldest beverages in the world ranked second after water. Reports indicate that in Uganda, tea is the second-largest export crop after coffee, grown by both large-scale (32%) and smallholder farmers (68%). Tea production is increasing in rural areas due to its high demand and associated benefits in the provision of jobs, incomes, and health. The third National Development Plan (NDPIII) 2020/21-2024/25) identifies tea as a key agricultural crop to contribute to the national Vision 2040 of a higher middle-income country with sound food security. Yet, current tea production in Uganda is neither optimal in terms of field management, sustainable intensification, and biodiversity potential, nor climate-resilient under increasingly erratic weather patterns. Farmers in Uganda still grow colonial-era (old) tea varieties that are not climate resilient or properly managed, resulting in low yields of 6 tea hectares per year. Tea production is negatively impacted in yield and quality by climate change impacts on soil quality, disease and pest incidence, drought and heat waves. About 75% of Ugandan soils, upon which 68% of smallholder farmers derive their livelihoods, are predominantly Ferralitic, with excellent physical, but poor chemical properties (low organic matter and nutrient levels, high phosphorus fixing potential). Some farmers circumvent these challenges of soil infertility by applying expensive inorganic fertilizers that consequently pollute the environment and increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Soil interventions that can sustain the cultivation, productivity, and quality of tea by improving soil fertility are needed. Also, weather variability, increased temperature and erratic rainfall significantly reduce crop yield and tea is no exception. Compared to the 1960s, the temperature in Uganda is expected to increase by 1.8°C by 2050 and rainfall will be more erratic. These abiotic climate stresses act directly and negatively on the tea plants, and increase outbreaks of tea pests and diseases, including arthropods such as mites and mealybugs. Developing methods for detection of plant growth dynamics and stress, improving soil status, and identifying climate-resilient tea varieties resistant to pests and diseases is crucial. There is also a wide knowledge gap in Africa regarding the impacts of the current climate, its variability and expected climate change on tea production systems, especially for smallholder farmers and their sustainability. Bridging this gap can be done by a combination of surveys, modelling, and field experiments.
Fixing the problem through NbS4Tea
A new project by Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in collaboration with NARO, Aarhus University (Denmark), Uganda Tea Association, and Kickstart International is envisaged to address the challenge and improve tea production and productivity in Uganda. Launched by Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe on 16th January 2024, the project titled; Nature-based Solutions for Climate-Resilient Tea Production in Uganda (NbS4Tea) will identify and quantify climate change impacts on tea yield and quality in Uganda. Through the project, the research team will identify and recommend climate resilient tea varieties, develop new methods and knowledge on locally available organic resources and NbS, innovate and deploy affordable irrigation technologies, empower vulnerable communities in tea production and processing, and identify export market strategies to substantially increase tea production and productivity in Uganda.
Funded by the Danish Fellowship Centre under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark and led by Dr Emmanuel Arthur from Aarhus University, the overall objective of the project is to sustainably bridge the tea yield gap in Uganda by developing research-based NbS for enhanced climate resilience of tea production systems.
- The project team will identify and quantify climate change impacts on tea yield and quality based on historical and newly obtained data and novel data mining methods;
- Screen, select and recommend tea varieties adapted to abiotic (drought and heat) and biotic stresses (diseases and pests);
- Develop new knowledge on the potential of local waste biomass (tea prunings, banana pseudostems and peels) as soil amendments- mulch, compost, biochar, to recycle nutrients, improve soil fertility, increase carbon sequestration and alleviate drought;
- Reveal NbS through agroforestry combined with organic mulch, irrigation and resilient tea varieties that increase biodiversity and tea yield;
- Innovate new methods to enhance tea production under climate change through rainwater harvest and climate-smart irrigation infrastructure
- Empower vulnerable groups (women, youth, people with disabilities) in tea production and processing to ensure multi-actor involvement and socio-economic benefit outreach of the proposed NbS in tea cultivation and production.
- Identify export market strategies for NbS tea products, aligned with consumer preferences.
Expected outcomes and outputs
The expected outcomes tackle both knowledge and tools. These include: (1) Increased tea production, productivity, and biodiversity through the adoption of NbS in an integrated plant-soil management system, (2) Increased research and technical capacity of Makerere and R-ZARDI for (i) irrigation science (ii) remote sensing campaigns and application to tea physiology studies, and (iii) crop simulation modelling, (3) Holistic stakeholder insight on economic feasibility, consumer acceptance and market access strategies, especially for vulnerable groups in the tea value chain, (4) Increased job prospects for youth and women in tea production sub-sectors, (5) Improved social status and increased incomes of tea farmers, traders, and exporters, and (6) Improved economic and environmental quality by recycling biomass waste into value-added products dedicated to soil enhancement. The expected outputs are quantifiable and include: (1) 15+ scientific articles, conference presentations, national reports, and policy briefs informing on climate impact on tea production, resistant varieties, and NbS effects on soil quality, GHG emissions, biodiversity, tea yields and quality, (2) Five PhDs and Five MSc degrees, (3) 4+ high-yielding tea genotypes adapted to drought and heat, diseases and pests, (4) Historical trends and rates in rainfall and temperature changes in major tea-growing areas of Uganda, (5) Future suitability of tea-growing areas in Uganda based on projected climate; Impact of climate parameters on tea production in Uganda, (6) Models for tea net primary production based on canopy reflectance, (7) Model for calculating tea transpiration from canopy temperature data, (8) Chlorophyll fluorescence-based model for identifying most virulent pathogens and effects of disease on resistant tea clones, (9) Catalog of NbS combining agroforestry, mulch-biochar, irrigation and resilient tea varieties to increase biodiversity and tea yield for improved climate resilience of tea farmers in Uganda with documented effects, (10) Smart sprinkler and drip irrigation system with solar-pump, (11) 1 novel climate-smart technology for supplementary irrigation, (12) Co-creation through multi-stakeholder innovation networks for economic feasibility, (13) Market access assessment and empowerment, and (14) Consumers’ valuation of NbS tea from Uganda.
Project team at Makerere
At Makerere University, the project is coordinated by Dr Alex Nimusiima from the Department of Geography, Geo-Informatics and Climatic Sciences at CAES. Other Project members are; Dr Grace Nakabonge from the Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism; Dr Prossy Nakawuka from the Department of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering; Dr Twaha Ali Basamba from the Department of Agricultural Production; and Dr Alice Turinawe from the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics.
Remarks by the VC
In his address, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University expressed excitement about the project and pledged Management support towards the realization of the objectives. “The project aligns well with our Strategic Goal 1 that aims to transform Makerere University into a research-led university, responding to national, regional and global development challenges, as well as contributing to global knowledge generation. It also speaks to our goal of increasing graduate enrolment at Makerere, and supports the agro-industrialisation agenda. This is a commendable initiative. As you aim to improve tea production and productivity, you should also plan to transform some to the yields into products that can be commercialised as one of the measures to improve the livelihoods of our people.” The Vice Chancellor appreciated Denmark for the support extended towards various development initiatives at Makerere.
The Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga commended the research team, noting that the project is in tandem with the aspirations of the University Strategic Plan (2020-2023) and the CAES Pact for Transformational Change that aims to strengthen research and innovation, and to improve graduate enrolment. “In our bid to contribute to national transformation, we want to ensure that no aspect of development is left behind. We want to form an agenda that will cause transformational change and our focus will be translational research, research that creates positive impact on the lives of our people.”
FAO Trains CAES Faculty on Integrated Food Security Phase Classification for Acute Malnutrition (IPC-AMN)
The primary objective of this training initiative is to promote knowledge exchange and learning about innovative systems, methods, tools, and best practices in nutrition surveillance.
The School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-systems Engineering (SFTNB), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University has held a four-day training for its staff and students on Integrated Food Security Phase Classification for Acute Malnutrition (IPC-AMN). The training held from 26th-29th February 2024 has been conducted at the School premises at the University.
The training initiative emerged from the collaborative efforts of the “Learning Network on Nutrition Surveillance.” The implementation of this initiative is led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). This network, fostering connections between policymakers, research institutions, and universities, spans across the countries of Djibouti, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda.
The primary objective of this initiative is to promote knowledge exchange and learning about innovative systems, methods, tools, and best practices in nutrition surveillance. The initiative fosters knowledge exchange on innovative systems, methods, tools, and practices in nutrition surveillance, with a special emphasis on the East, Central, and Southern Africa region, and the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) for Food Security and Nutrition stands as a crucial element within this network.
One of the key contributors to this training initiative is the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), leveraging its two decades of experience. FAO has meticulously designed face-to-face training sessions for professionals in food security and nutrition. Furthermore, they have developed a comprehensive curriculum for graduate and post-graduate students focusing on the IPC for Acute Malnutrition scale (AMN).
This AMN course is crafted to equip graduates with the essential skills for IPC, but also serve as a pathway for IPC certification, enhancing their professional credentials as they embark on their careers. Notably, a similar curriculum addressing acute food insecurity has been successfully implemented at the University of Pretoria, and has worked successfully.
As a significant stride towards expanding the reach of this valuable curriculum, FAO has played a pivotal role in training the academic staff at Makerere University (Department of Food Technology and Nutrition) on both the structure and content of the AMN course curriculum. This strategic partnership aims to facilitate the eventual incorporation of this curriculum into the institution’s offerings.
Facilitating this training was Dr Jannie Armstrong, Integrated Phase Classification’s Learning and Research Coordinator. Dr Armstrong brings a wealth of experience to the table, overseeing the academic liaison portfolio and ensuring that IPC remains informed of developments in food security and nutrition research globally. His commitment is evident through co-developing IPC training materials and contributing as a member of the Technical Development Team.
Over the past 25 years, Dr Armstrong has contributed significantly to food security policy across Asia, Africa, and Europe, working with esteemed organizations such as FAO, WFP, and others. His enduring research interest in food security policy in the Global South reflects his dedication to making a positive impact in this field.
“As educators, we recognize the paramount importance of preparing our students for the evolving workforce, and FAO’s initiative is a testament of our commitment to continuous improvement in teaching and learning, aligning perfectly with our objectives. We express our sincere appreciation for this collaborative effort and are confident that together, we shall rise to meet the evolving needs of our stakeholders both within and outside Uganda,” remarked Dr Hedwig Acham, Senior Lecturer, Department of Food Technology & Nutrition, Makerere University.
More photos from the event.
Dr. Robert Fungo Elected President, Federation of African Nutrition Societies (FANUS)
Dr. Robert Fungo was in November 2023 elected President of the Federation of African Nutrition Societies (FANUS).
Dr. Fungo is a Lecturer at the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University. His Teaching, Research and Community Outreach is in the Field of Applied Human Nutrition, Food Science and Food Technology. As a Nutritionist and Food Technologist, he is interested in understanding the influence of agriculture and food systems on the nutrition and food security of women and children in low and middle-income African countries (LMIACs).
The Federation of African Nutrition Societies (FANUS) is a conglomeration of nutrition societies of the African nation with the vision to market and sustain nutrition security and national altogether country of Africa. The vision of the Federation is to enhance the visibility, relevance and functionality of FANUS and national nutrition societies, con-jointly to strengthen the functioning and property of national nutrition societies to realize goals, unite and influence nutrition in Africa.
Details about Dr. Robert Fungo please click on the link below:
Call for Papers – Makerere University Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (MUJAES)
The Editorial Board, Makerere University Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (MUJAES), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is receiving manuscripts for consideration for Volume 13, Issue 1 2024 that will come out in June 2024 and Issue 2 slated for December 2024. Manuscripts should be sent to email@example.com. For details on MUJAES and guidelines for submission of manuscripts, visit: https://mujaes.mak.ac.ug/. Manuscripts to be considered for publication in MUJAES should be based on original research findings.
For any inquiries, contact; Dr Jeninah Karungi-Tumutegyereize, Editor, MUJAES. Email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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