CAES Holds MUARIK Field Day
- Participants hail students projects and demonstrations.
- Uganda Police promises jobs
- About 100 students graduate as plant doctors
On 1st August 2013, Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) held the Kabonyolo Field Day to mark the end of recess term training. About 100 students graduated with certificates in Plant Doctoring.
Every year, over 100 undergraduate students undertaking BSc. Agriculture, BSc. Horticulture and BSc. Food Science and Technology are dispatched to Kabanyolo Research institute to translate theory into practice.
Participants from agricultural institutions, farmers, public and private institutions, politicians and youth organizations are invited to see and share experiences from the 1st year undergraduate students who undergo competence based training to equip them with hands on skills ranging from production, management and entrepreneurship for nine weeks.
This year Makerere staff, farmers, students and invited guests from youth organizations, Uganda police and prisons, ministry of agriculture and agricultural institutions toured the students’ projects ranging from tractor ploughing, manure composting, apiary, poultry, hay and silage making, organic piggery, land management practices, artificial colostrums making and milk testing for different diseases. Otherws were mashroom farming, nursery bed raising, soil sterilization, sack vegetable gardening, and running plant clinics among others.
Presiding over the function as chief guest the Vice Chancellor Makerere University represented by Prof. Bernard Bashaasha on behalf of the University, thanked participants for honoring the invitation to attend this open day. He was optimistic that this platform would provide the opportunity to catalyze the creation and strengthening of partnerships and lay foundation for long term engagement and reflect on what the country needs to transform its agricultural sector and cause it to stimulate development in our country and the region.
“The college is proud of MUARIK as a one stop centre for agriculture and related aspects. Seated on over 750 acres of land, the institute offers training in animal production such as piggery, poultry, dairy, rabbit and goat rearing. The institute also offers training in crop production, agricultural mechanisation, engineering, carpentry and service learning for mindset change.”
He said the farm was endowed with farm machinery including, tractors, combine harvester, feed mill, silos and other equipment that can reduce human drudgery on the farm including a number of green houses and laboratories for research and multiplication of technologies with the capacity to produce for commercial purposes and contribute to the country’s economic development.
The VC reminded participants of three major development challenges that plague development processes in the continent namely the weak and degraded human resources running various public and private sector enterprises; an increasing population largely composed of unemployed youth that is prone to poverty, hunger and vulnerable to various natural and human instigated calamities; and a weak innovation capacity to support the transformation of our economies into knowledge based ones which could play more significant roles in the global economy.
“I am conscious of the three issues I have highlighted that is poverty, hunger and vulnerability of our people, which are the three words that have typically been associated with our continent. Ladies and gentlemen, we can reverse this and we have the capability to do so”, he said.
The professor said the University had intensified capacity building efforts particularly, focusing on strategic areas needed as stop-gap efforts for medium and long term human capital needs destined to fill the gaps and supply needed skills and competencies that the country’s human capital require to be more effective and efficient.
“I am happy to report that last month July 2013, the college launched a training program for Plant Doctors starting with the current Undergraduate BSc Agriculture students on Recess term training at the this institute MUARIK as a strategy for curbing pests and diseases…The ultimate objective is to ensure that at least by 2015 a million of farmers will have access to the information that they need to produce more and loose less”. He added.
He also said that the college implemented a PhD program in Agricultural and Rural Innovations that attracted over 20 students with the overall objective of producing top-level skilled professionals with interdisciplinary orientation to facilitate development of institutions and structures for utilization of knowledge and technologies to promote innovations for rural development.
The VC also said plans were underway to develop Graduate programs in Climate Sciences, Disaster and Risk Management, Water Management and Irrigation.
“The college has endeavored to shift from outreach that portrays knowledge transfer to engagement and partnership with communities in Uganda to enhance agricultural development and sustainable use of natural resources. This includes farming communities for research and innovation, government and other public policy, and Research and Development bodies, students, private sector, business and industrialists, civil society, regional and global knowledge centers and development partners.” He stated.
In the strategic plan (2011-2021) the VC told participants that the college plans to relocate from the main campus to this site at Kabanyolo to develop modern facilities, expand enrolment to enhance innovative teaching, learning, and research and outreach services.
He assured participants that that the University was open and willing to enter into a Public Private Partnership to transform the agricultural sector and cause it to stimulate development in our country and the region.
Uganda Police and prisons representatives impressed and promised jobs for students
Uganda police representative SCP Muhabwe Laban said he was challenged by the students work. He said Uganda police spouses were doing a lot of nothing yet a simple technology of sack vegetable gardening would make a difference in their homes.
“I was impressed. Our wives are doing nothing and what I have learnt is that they can grow tomatoes in sacks on verandas and I appreciated students work. Therefore, on behalf of police we are giving you jobs and we shall take as many as we can”. The officer promised.
He expressed the need to transform Uganda police into a productive force and called upon the university to modernize agriculture so that it is looked as a business rather than a subsistence undertaking.
Uganda Prisons representative Andrew Kisitu told the participants that the force had a partnership with Makerere University based on fundamentals that the university has the expertise to offer adding that a number of students interns were on the prisons farms deeply involved in production.
Mr. Kisitu however observed that whereas the university was being choked by knowledge and skills, the prisons services was starving from lack of this knowledge.
“The problem of the youth is lack of productive activities. With knowledge we can reduce crime and transform the youth”.
He implored the university to fix the problem of climate change by venturing into simple technologies of irrigation and systems that can benefit farmers mitigate the problem of food insecurity.
He commended the students’ projects as inspirational, “The new approach to farming is impressive. I commend the lady driving the tractor. I was inspired by the confidence the tractor driver had. I advise the students to love agriculture and the other aspect of money will come next”, Mr. Kisitu Advised.
The LCV councilor Wakiso district Prince Wasajja Herbert called upon the academia to join politicians to protect the environment saying, the district leaders have been in court for trying to stop a tycoon pouring soil in the lake but fortunately the district won the case.
The LC applauded the students for their demonstrations and explanations describing them as professional. He said all along he did not know that those speaking were first year students. He said those who think Makerere products are not good should exempt the college of Agriculture.
Prince Wasajja said he had learnt a lot from the students’ projects but was particularly impressed by sack vegetable growing, plant doctors and plant clinics.
“70% of Wakiso is urbanized with a population of 1.5 million people and the carry back message is that the only way to go is urbanized farming through sack vegetable growing.” He said.
He also said the district was fronting plant clinics and had included them in the district budget to start with Nangabo and Kakiri sub counties, “ We shall make use of plant doctors that have graduated today. Please do not hesitate when called upon” he said.
Prince Wasajja also stated that the district was organizing an agricultural exhibition and would prefer it hosted in Nangabo sub county because of what they have seen.
He further reported that the district was serious hit by inadequate staffing with only one environmental officer and urged academia to add on the district voice to advocate for at least one environmental officer per Sub County.
The Dean School of Agricultural Sciences, Prof. Johnny Mugisha thanked students for the job well-done. He said there have been wide spread complaints that university graduates were half baked.
Prof. Mugisha observed that many employers take on their relatives leaving qualified graduates. “The problem today is that people are employed basing on technical know who but not competence. You employ your relatives and later complain that university graduates cannot perform,” Prof. Mugisha said and challenged employers to consult the university during recruitment.
Ag Director MUARIK Dr. Lukman Mulumba told participants that the Mission of MUARIK was to conduct training and research that is responsive to national agricultural needs. He said MUARIK was established as a centre of excellence for agricultural research and development but also to set up an institution that would use cutting edge science to increase market research and products that could be marketed for her beneficiaries.
“It was also set up to create a conducive environment for learning and also a platform where we could create a public private partnership. The training at MUARIK has focused mainly on the youth because we believe they are the future of our nation. If you train the youth, you reduce redundancy, hooliganism and develop the country”. Dr. Mulumba said.
He said, at the moment the institute was hosting students from ten universities in Uganda conducting research for a period of four to ten weeks. Dr. Mulumba also said the institute receives students and institutions on study tours including nursery and higher education institutions for a day which has improved their performance in national examinations.
Dr. Mulumba also reported that the institute was hosting students from twelve African universities doing research at MSc and PhD levels. But in addition creates partnerships with government institutions which are beneficial to MUARIK and other partners including Uganda coffee development authority, prisons and police.
“The community benefits from the institute through activities such as plant clinics who bring their samples to diagnose then we can up with some remedies to solve some challenges”.
He thanked the students for spending the time at the institute expressing optimism that a lot had been achieved that will enable them see things from a new perspective.
The LCI chairperson who doubled as Farmer Manager Gatrude Wokulira Nakuubuuza welcomed participants to her village describing it as the land of the plenty. She said her LC was unique in a way that it is multilingual comprising people from all academic ranks busy all the time.
Highlighting the neighbors she said besides having different nationalities the village was in proximity with the city centre and harbors students undergoing different training programs at under and graduate level.
“Actually students come here and leave crying because of the cool, calm and fresh environment where we keep harvesting. You find students carrying avocados which they never sowed so their life is so interesting here”. The farm manager thanked the participants for coming and assured them of maximum security throughout the function.