CAES hosts FLYGENE Inception Meeting

Makerere University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES), in partnership with AARHUS University, ICIPE, University of Nairobi, and Marula Proteen Limited, is undertaking a research project titled FLYGene (Sustainable and efficient insect production for livestock feed through selective breeding). The FLYGene project is looking at enhancing productivity of the black solder fly through: automation of processes for real-time monitoring, decision support and analytics, enhanced market access, and agriculture extension and advisory services. Insect research at the College has so far yielded some outputs including: introduction of insects for food and feed in Uganda, establishment of rearing protocols for black solder fly (BSF) and insects, training BSF farmers and entrepreneurs all over Uganda, establishment of post-harvest handling and processing procedures and capacity building.

Participants during the FLYGene Project Plenary Sessions

FLYGene is a new project funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the overall aim to enable the implementation of selective breeding of the Black Solder Fly (BSF) for improved livestock feed availability in Kenya and Uganda by generating new knowledge of insect genetics, genomics and phenomics. Specifically, FLYGene project aims at:

  • Identify and prioritize economically important BSF traits in smallholder and commercial production systems of Kenya and Uganda.
  • Developing innovative large-scale phenotyping and rapid BSF family identification systems.
  • Developing genomic tools for genetic marker–based monitoring of BSF genetic diversity and tracing of pedigrees.
  • Designing BSF breeding programs in Kenya and Uganda focusing on large-scale producers (nucleus farms) and smallholder farms as multipliers and producers.
  • Building physical and human capacity for insect breeding research in Kenya and Uganda.

The purpose of the inception meeting was to present an overview of the project and obtain input from experienced stakeholders of the Black Soldier Fly value chain, on the planned activities.

Researchers at CAES led by Prof. Dorothy Nakimbugwe from the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, organized the FLYGene Inception meeting held on 22nd November 2022 at Makerere School of Food Technology, Nutrition & Bio-Engineering Conference Hall.

Participants during the FLYGene Project Inception Meeting

According to Prof. Nakimbugwe, Project PI, there is need to reassure the communities about the safety of what is being done. “We are researching about the Genetic Improvement of Black Solder Fly, not genetic modification. It’s safe and won’t affect them,” she said. Prof. Nakimbugwe emphasized the need for entrepreneurs, farmers, extension officers among others, to be cautious of the genetic quality and traits of black Soldier flies as these are key for successful breeding.

Prof. Dorothy Nakimbugwe, Lecturer, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, CAES, Makerere University and  Project PI

The Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga represented by the Deputy Principal, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, highlighted the need to harness & optimize insects to transform society especially in terms of nutrition and business. “There is very big potential that exists in insects and as researchers, we need to work with business people to take this to the next level,” she said. According to Prof. Bamutaze, Uganda’s economy is currently struggling in terms of job creation and having resilient communities that can resist or adapt to harsh conditions, which makes the project timely and inline with what the government expects.

Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Deputy Principal, CAES, Makerere University

Prof. Ivan Muzira Mukisa, Head, Department of Food Technology and Nutrition at CAES, Makerere University emphasized the need to appreciate the immense potential in insects. “Given the increase in population and the rate at which land is being fragmented, there is need to prioritize insects as an important source of food,” he said.

Prof. Ivan Muzira Mukisa, Head, Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, CAES, Makerere University

Mr. Giduda Masaba, Commissioner, Entomology, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) acknowledged the contribution of Denmark in making agriculture sustainable in East Africa. He shared the parameters considered in funding collaborative research including: the research being between academic and research institutions in Denmark, capacity building and impacting society.

Mr. Giduda Masaba, Commissioner, Entomology, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

Prof. Abel Atukwase, Dean, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, CAES, appreciated the funders of the FLYGene project noting that it will largely improve nutrition, especially amongst the vulnerable communities.

Prof. Abel Atukwase, Dean, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering

Dr. Geofrey Ssepuuya, Lecturer Department of Food Science and Technology, Kyambogo University, presented on BSF Rearing Progress: Insects for Food and Feed Research.

Dr. Geofrey Ssepuuya, Lecturer Department of Food Science and Technology, Kyambogo University

Also Dr. Cosmas Mwikirize, Lecturer, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Makerere University gave a presentation on ‘Digitization of Agriculture in Developing Countries.

Dr. Cosmas Mwikirize, Lecturer, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Makerere University

FLYGENE Inception Meeting Final

 

Article Written By Kasemiire Mariam, Web Administrator, CAES



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