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Copyright 2017 - @ College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Makerere University. All Rights Reserved!

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.


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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Over 450 graduate from CAES : Mak Chancellor Prof. Mondo Kagonyera warns of impending Food crisis calling for more investments in Agriculture and other sectors

Makerere University Chancellor Prof. Mondo Kagonyera has warned that the mismatch between the growing population and food production posses a big challenge calling for interventions to improve agricultural production and productivity in the country.

Prof. Kagonyera was   presiding over the third day of Makerere University   63rd   Graduation  ceremony that took place at the Freedom Square on Thursday  January 24th 2013.

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CAES Celebrates the Institutional and Individual Awards Won Since Turning Collegiate

On the 21st of November 2012, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences celebrated its tremendous award-wining spree over the past two year since it turned collegiate.

The Principal, Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa receiving the AGRF Award 2012 as one of the best institutions for the commitment and excellence in areas of Academia & Research towards promoting a Green Revolution in Africa

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Makerere Signs Pact with Tottori University Japan: Student/staff exchange, Establishment of an Agro – Technology Park, part of the deal

Makerere and Tottori university have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum on Student Exchange Based on Academic Exchange (MOSE), the first of its kind with the Japanese institution.

The collaboration is expected to benefit the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in terms of training, research, curriculum development, quality assurance, institutional development through student /staff exchange and the establishment of an Agro – Technology Park at Makerere University Research Institute - Kabanyolo (MUARIK).

[L-R]H.E Junji Yamazaki, Goddy Muhumuza, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu and Dr. Dagnachew Aklog

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More Articles ...

  1. Prof. Joyce Kikafunda Receives Nestle Nutrition Institute in Africa Award (NNINA) 2012
  2. S. Korea’s Saemul Movement introduced as an effective rural development model to spiral economic transformation in developing countries
  3. School of Food Technology wins UMA Show Award 2012
  4. Makerere wins the AGRF Award 2012
  5. Makerere in a new project deal with USAID and MSU
  6. The 3rd RUFORUM Biennial Conference Held at Entebbe
  7. Makerere implements the New ARI PhD Program
  8. Uganda Police and Makerere tour youth Enterprises in Kampala: CAES to provide technical expertise in a campaign to combat crime and unemployment among the youth
  9. President Museveni launches Makerere@90 years celebrations
  10. Makerere University, Uganda Police and Prisons Services meet to draft the Memorandum of Understanding
  11. Tottori University -Japan seeks collaboration with Makerere University
  12. CAES holds Kabanyolo Field day: AIGP Andrew Sorowen says Police ready to partner with the University to enhance agricultural production and entrepreneurial skills.
  13. The IGP impromptu visit to CAES; seeking expertise in mindset change and technologies to improve agricultural productivity for food security and job creation.
  14. Second cohort of the NOMA project to advance MSc. in Nutrition, Human Rights and Governance at Makerere University Launched
  15. Farmers in Eastern Uganda get Drought Tolerant sorghum variety MK60
  16. Open up! Scientists urged to move innovations from the laboratory to the market
  17. Digital Plant Growth Chamber opened at Kabanyolo
  18. School of Agricultural Sciences reviews the Recess Term curriculum
  19. Phase I of the research into HIV drug complete: Prof John Tabuti takes feedback to Traditional healers
  20. Recess Term activities officially launched - Students urged to change their mindset and be innovative
  21. School of Agricultural Sciences (SAS) gets new Dean
  22. FANRPAN Uganda Node launched
  23. Makerere to implement new Regional PhD program in Agricultural and Rural Innovations First intake takes effect from September – October 2012
  24. Makerere and Xiangtan University to start academic collaboration
  25. Utilizing sugarcane industrial wastes for animal feeds and fuel: CAES makes a Milk booster and Briquettes from sugar cane molasses and trash.
  26. The briquettes as an alternative source of fuel to conserve the environment.
  27. Integrating ICT in Agriculture as an extension service to address farmer’s challenges
  28. US earmarks $150 million for Agriculture and Nutrition activities in Uganda, says Deputy Director USAID Mission
  29. Senegalese Delegation visits MUARIK
  30. CAES acquires a modern state-of- the art Biotechnology laboratory
  31. Makerere breeds sweet sorghum variety for food and Bio fuel production
  32. CAES celebrates Kabanyolo Day
  33. IMO – Organic Piggery Technology for improved yields at minimum costs: No smell, no noise, no treatment
  34. The “Feed Lot” –New technology to increase beef production in Uganda
  35. Animal scientists call for a policy to protect Range lands
  36. Prof. Elly Sabiiti joins Membership Advisory Committee of the AAS
  37. CAES students offer career guidance in Gulu district
  38. Bwaise III sanitation pollutants contaminate surface and ground water including Lake Victoria- Says new Mak study
  39. CAES develops Climate Sciences courses for integration in its curricula: Creation of the Climate Change Center also in the offing
  40. Minister Nabugera visits VicRes project experimental nursery garden - calls for conservation of traditional medicinal plants
  41. Climate change Experts embark on research to develop drought resistant coffee variety
  42. International Accreditation Team evaluates MSc. Prog in Integrated Watershed Management (IWM)
  43. The Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology Hails CAES School of Food Technology for the job well done.
  44. Another farmer in Nabweru benefits from Mak Pig Artificial Insemination Technology
  45. MUCAES in a 250 billion project proposal to shift to Kabanyolo
  46. Minister Nyiira plegdes government support to Makerere university Innovations
  47. Mak Vice Chancellor calls for better pay for University staff
  48. Soil Science Graduate students get Laptops
  49. Minister James Mutende visits CAES and pledges support to Agricultural projects
  50. MUCAES Publishes Four New Books for Secondary Schools
  51. Makerere in Multi Field Trials for More New Soybean Varieties
  52. Soil Testing Kit and Bio Fertilizer Technologies Developed
  53. MAK Media Week ends with CAES Showcasing Five Innovations
  54. East African Universities meet to discuss Climate Change Science Curriculum
  55. The President of the Republic of Uganda
  56. Mak Don Optimistic About New HIV/AIDS Drugs, Says It Will Reduce Dependence on Donor ARVs
  57. E.D Ruforum Excites Primary Pupils
  58. New Ugandan Cassava Virus Discovered
  59. Mak's John Quinn's app tackles cassava mosaic spread
  60. MUCAES Principal Urges Freshers to Utilize Knowledge and Skills to Solve Societal Problems.
  61. Mak Chancellor Appeals To Government For More Affirmative Action For Scholarship For Girls In Northern Uganda.
  62. Two CAES Students awarded PhDs at a Special Graduation.
  63. CAEC Promotes Marram Bricks and Bio-Gas Technology.
  64. IOWA State Proffessor hails CAES for unique USA
  65. CAES Staff wins the first Africa College Prize.
  66. MUCAES Wins Agricultural Show
  67. MUK Chancelor, Kagonyera's impromptu visit to FTNB
  68. Dangerous Weed Invades Uganda: CAES Carries Out Research On Control Measures
  69. Principal calls for support to Universities to realise Economic Development
  70. CMAAE to Create Wealth to Farmers in Africa Through Agric Research
  71. CAES students excel in Mpigi

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Office of the Principal

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Makerere University

P.O.Box, 7062, Kampala, Uganda

Tel: +256-414-542277

Email: principal@caes.mak.ac.ug