Plantwise 2014 program concluded, new plant doctors and nurses trained.
Makerere University students at the front line
Experito Mayanja Kabuga, Paul Onyait and Paul Mugisha are third year students under the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Program at Makerere University who graduated as “plant doctors” in July 2013. These three represent a team of students who have run a plant clinic for farmers in Busukuma sub-county under the guidance of the sub-county extension agent, Mr. Ronald Kavuma and Mr. Gerald Kyeyune, the Practicals Coordinator in the Department of Agricultural Production.
This program is one of three initiatives under the partnership between the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the Centre for Agricultural Bio-Sciences International (CABI). Using two modules developed by CABI, 100 students were trained last year and 60 students in November 2014. Module 1 trains on plant diagnosis and how to run a plant clinic, feeding into module 2 that equips students with knowledge and skills on making recommendations on management. Other on-going initiatives are developing a certificate course for re-tooling in-service extension agents, and integrating the approach and content used in the CABI modules into the undergraduate curriculum of CAES.
“Looking at the students demonstrate how to run a plant clinic, I felt a sense of satisfaction at a job well done; we have trained them well”, said Dr. Mildred Ochwo-Ssemakula, Coordinator of Plant Doctor training and CABI-SAS activities. Because of the interest they have shown and their good performance at the clinic, the three 2013 plant doctors have been nominated for further training in data management. In his closing speech as the 2014 plant doctors were passed out, Mr. Benius Tukahirwa, Representative of Plantwise from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries reiterated the relevance of training plant doctors to meet the demand in the local governments, which face many challenges. He further indicated that the plant clinics were making great strides in improving extension service delivery to farmers. A case in note is Busukuma sub-county, where funding challenges often limit the extent to which the extension department can address the farmers’ problems. Here, the Makerere University students are at the front line of extension, improving service delivery as they are equipped with practical skills for future deployment in improving the quality of Agriculture in Uganda.
Below are some of the training photos