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CAES through the 90 years

From a mere subject,  “Agriculture”  to  a small Faculty of Agriculture in the 1920’s, Makerere University College  of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences(CAES) was born and has now  been identified  as one of the most vibrant colleges in  the region and a  centre of leadership  for post graduate training, research and innovations .

Read more: CAES through the 90 years

Food Science student domesticates and adds value to traditional Goose berries

Goose berries traditionally known as Ntuntunu in Luganda is a traditional wild fruit that many natives would come across in the bush. The plant yields heavily and when ripe it is mostly consumed by picking the fruit, opening it and chewing. However, the growing population and pressure on the environment means that the fruit can no longer survive as bushes are cleared for settlement and farming.

Makerere Food Science student Vincent Ssekagya is one of the brains that saw the business potential of the goose berries and decided to domesticate and add value to the goose berries. Today, he has gone commercial and produces three products namely goose berry jam, goose berry juice and wine under the brand name VICRIS.

                 The goose berry plant and fruits ready for harvesting.

Read more: Food Science student domesticates and adds value to traditional Goose berries

New Secondary School Curriculum infused with climate change issues set for 2016 says NCDC

A revised Lower Secondary School Curriculum infused with climate change issues  is in the offing. Sekandwa Ronald from the Social Studies Learning Area disclosed this while  representing the coordinator of Climate Change Education in National Curriculum Development Centre(NCDC) during the seminar on Integrating  Climate Change  Issues into Education held on February 27,2013 at Makerere university School of Food Science.

Read more: New Secondary School Curriculum infused with climate change issues set for 2016 says NCDC

The Horticulture Newsletter launched

Makerere University Horticulture Students Association (MUHOSA) has launched a News letter dubbed, “The Horticulture Newsletter.” after   three years of its existence following MUHOSA formation in August 2010. This was in line with MUHOSA‘s objectives of creating awareness about Horticulture in the University as a way of contributing to the development of the horticulture sector of the country.

Read more: The Horticulture Newsletter launched

Department of Agricultural Bio systems engineering gets new head

Prof. Noble E. Banadda is the new head department of Agricultural Bio systems engineering (DABE). This is one of the two departments that constitute the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio engineering.

Outgoing head Assoc. Prof. William Kyamuhangire handed over the instruments of power to Prof. Noble Banadda at a hand over ceremony presided over by the Ag. Deputy Principal Prof. Frank Kansiime at the school premises on February 28, 2013.

Assoc. Prof. William Kyamuhangire hands over the instruments of power to the new head, Prof. Noble Banadda

Read more: Department of Agricultural Bio systems engineering gets new head

Agricultural Scientists raise hope for the New Food Crop the “Yam bean”

Scientifically known as Pachyrhizus Spp, the Yam bean is a nutrient rich legume root crop of the American origin closely related to the soya bean. It bears beans on top and tubers underground.  It is propagated by true seed, has high nitrogen fixing capacity and large storage root yields .

Left : The yam bean tuber, Right: The yam bean plantlet

The tuber has properties like sweet potatoes or common yams and cassava. It can be made into flour and mixed with millet and other flours but it can also be taken as cooked fresh tubers or chopped it into pieces taken raw as salads and that is what is being promoted in Kampala as an urban salad.

Researchers are optimistic that the yam bean will contribute significantly to food security because unlike other root tubers, it is rich in protein, carbohydrates,  zinc and iron which are nutritionally recommended plus other  nutrients on top of improving soil fertility.

In  January, 2009 scientists  in plant breeding, agronomy and plant genetic resources  from  Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in collaboration with  the International Potato Center (CIP) - an international research institute for tropical  agriculture based in South  America and  research institutes in DR Congo , Rwanda and Burundi embarked on  a project  to popularising the use of yam beans as human food in Eastern and Western Africa.

The yam bean growing in a garden

The four year project funded by the Belgium Technical Cooperation titled, “Enhancing the nutrient  rich yam bean (Pachyrhizus spp) to improve food quality, availability and sustainability of farming systems in Central and West Africa”is aimed at the availability of larger seed quantities for  three to four varieties with high yields and adaptation to central African conditions.

Scientists describe the yam bean as an adventure and a challenge because the true seeds of the crop are inedible due to its  high rotenone contents. Plant breeder from the Department of Agricultural Production Makerere University, Dr. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa said research in the laboratory and in the farmers fields for screening  to determine rotenone in the yam bean  have been developed with promising results.

“We are doing research on how this rotenone can be removed or deactivated from the seeds because once that is done, we are capable of recommending the bean for human and livestock consumption. We are doing this in collaboration with a University in Belgium”  Said Dr. Tukamuhabwa.

Laboratory and Farmer fields experiments are being conducted in Luwero, Soroti, Namulonge , Kabale- Kachekano and Kabanyolo nearing  commercialisation.

Achievements so far include the inclusion of 31 new accessions to the CIP gene bank, about 60 farmer varieties now maintained at CIP, and well adaptability in central Africa high lands conditions of Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo where temperatures do not fall below zero and in tall grass savannah agro ecological zone.

“We hope by the end of the third year of this project  we should be able to tell you which variety is the best  but we can say right that there are  prospects that farmers will take it as a serious crop  and that some of these varieties are adoptable to our conditions “. Dr. Tukamuhabwa  said.

He also explained that over 60 varieties of the yam bean were obtained from Peru  and are differentiated by   seed colours for example  white, red, black   while some  varieties have soft and hard tubers  which are taken to farmers for selection.

“What we are doing is adopting a technology by getting varieties got from Peru and, growing them in our own environment to see if they are doing very well and grow them with farmers. We bring different varieties, multiply them and do different experiments with them in different fields. Then when we harvest we get root tubers and develop them into different food types using  our graduate student and also get the seed and see how much rotenone is there”

Some of the products from the yam bean

Two PhD, seven Masters and  three under graduate  students are doing different disciplines in regard to improving the yam bean. Of the two students from Food science and technology, one of them is looking at the rotenone problem and another one focusing on developing new products from yam beans.

He said unlike the common root tubers like cassava and sweet potatoes,  the Yam bean  yields very well  over 30 tonnes per  hectare and even higher if flowers  are  removed  and  where one wants   both seeds and tubers , still the yields are  comparatively higher than harvests from cassava, sweet potatoes and yams..

The break through in the reduction of the poisonous substance in the yam bean will be one of the most celebrated achievements in farming systems in Africa that will enhance food security for the hungry world.

‘We are also popularising the yam bean to make it acceptable to the population because changing peoples eating habits is another challenge. In Africa the  yam bean  is grown in Benin where it has been introduced with a lot of  work done nearing adoption and  now  we are looking at Uganda, DR Congo Burundi and Rwanda”. Dr. Tukamuhabwa explained.

He  added that although the yam bean  roots are good and people like eating them , farmers   are saying  that the tuber is succulent and they want it to be hard  with properties like sweet potatoes or common yams and cassava compelling researchers to develop roots which have more dry content so that  farmers may feel more comfortable.

There is  uncertainty  of the continuation of this work  after the third year of funding  by the Belgium Technical cooperation  is over, remains another big challenge.

IDRC Visits CAES

A six member team from the IDRC- the sponsors of Makerere University Change Management  on February 22, 2013 Visited Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Science to ascertain the level of progress under the new collegiate system. The university turned collegiate two years ago.

The team, met the Ag. Principal CAES Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa and members of staff where they discussed issues pertaining the progress and challenges in the implementation of the collegiate system where a number of issues were raised.

Read more: IDRC Visits CAES

CAES Meets Assistant IGP Elizabeth Muwanga

Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences(CAES) on February 1 2012, met with the Assistant Inspector General of  Uganda Police who is also in charge for Production and Welfare Elizabeth Muwanga to discuss modalities to utilise police farm land in Yumbe and Masindi.

Chairing  the meeting the Ag.  Deputy Principal CAES Prof. Frank Kansiime said the purpose of the meeting was to forge a way of working together with government to enhance agricultural productivity in the Uganda Police Force and how to make Makerere more relevant and reach out to the communities.

Read more: CAES Meets Assistant IGP Elizabeth Muwanga

Two Publications on Sanitation and Waste Management out

The Department of Environmental Management has published a  book titled,  Social Perspectives on Sanitation Challenge. The lead author is Assoc. Prof. James Okot Okumu. Another contribution by the department to international book publication is in the Book titled, “ Waste Management an Integrated Vision.  The author of Chapter 1 –“Solid Waste Management in African Cities – East Africa” is Assoc. Prof. James Okot  Okumu.

Assoc. Prof. James Okot Okumu showing the two books

Read more: Two Publications on Sanitation and Waste Management out

CAES holds workshop to train Agricultural Extension workers

Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental sciences, on January  14-19, 2013,  held a workshop to equip agricultural extension officers with new skills  on innovation.

The one week training Mid career course was conducted at the Continuing Agricultural Education Centre, Kabanyolo   under the ACP Science and Technology program  to build  the capacity  of African  Universities graduates to Foster Development  through Agricultural Innovations.

Read more: CAES holds workshop to train Agricultural Extension workers


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