Makerere University has been commended for the efforts made in training and research on traditional sorghum and cowpea crops.

Some of the exhibition materials

The commendation was made by the former and current Pro-Vice Chancellors of University of Cape Coast Ghana during the official opening of the exhibition and poster session at the  RUFORUM Annual General Meeting on 2nd December 2019 at the University of Cape Coast  Ghana.

Over 50 stalls for RUFORUM partnering universities were set up at the Institute of Education Car park showcasing their latest technologies, innovations, programs and activities while posters were mounted at the Ackah Lecture Theatre.

Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences was represented by Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI). Students undertaking Masters and PhD in plant breeding mounted a stall with banners and posters on centre’s training   and research activities as well as produced quality foundation seeds and value added products from sorghum and cowpeas.

Prof. Dora F. Edubu Buandoh signing in the visitors book after touring the Mak stall

The exhibitions and poster session was officially opened by  the Pro-Vice Chancellor  University of Cape Coast Prof. Dora F. Edubu Buandoh flanked by the former first  Female  University Vice Chancellor in Ghana who is also former Minister of Education  and currently  Chancellor in a Zambian  University  Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemanga. They were also accompanied by  Nigerian founder for NIWARD, Stella Williams and conducted around the stalls by RUFORUM Executive Secretary Prof. Adipala  Ekwam.

“I am encouraged by the act of adding value to sorghum and cow pea research”, Prof. Edubu Buandoh Pro Vice Chancellor UCC, commended as Makerere students explained the centre research and training activities.

The former Vice Chancellor UCC Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemanga and Nigeria’s Stella Williams were impressed by the female students confidence and presentation skills.

They said research efforts to promote African traditional crops is a welcome move for Africa to realize inclusive development.

Stella Williams (3rd), Prof. Dora F. Edubu Buandoh , Prof. Adipala Ekwam and Prof.Prof. Jane Naana Opoku- Agyemanga visit the Mak stall

They were also happy with the multinational recruitment of students across the continent taking into consideration the gender aspect. Prof. Naana hailed students for speaking   with pride about Africa’s training institutions and research.

Sorghum and cowpea are orphan and food security crops that can be grown throughout the year but with little known about them.

MaRCCI has had enormous interest in these two crops. The centre’s research programme has been designed to support cowpea and sorghum as model crops to demonstrate best-breeding practices to both students in the PhD and MSc training programs and scientists in the region. 

The goal of the research is to develop superior varieties of traditional climate–resilient crops and production of high quality breeder and foundation seed.

So far, superior varieties of cowpea and sorghum are in final pre-release testing. Awider range of local and exotic germplasm has been collected for use as raw materials in developing high yielding and nutritious cowpea and sorghum varieties.

Stella Williams (3rd), Prof. Dora F. Edubu Buandoh , Prof. Adipala Ekwam and Prof.Prof. Jane Naana Opoku- Agyemanga visit the RUFORUM stall

New tools have been created to speed up development of desired varieties and youth trained to contribute to the provision of better crops for the nation and the region.

The developed cow pea varieties include the cream coloured drought tolerant variety AL2018_201 with  a yield of 2600 kg /ha and high poding rate.

The other is  the mottled coloured early maturing seed, yielding 2400kg/ha code-named WC_35C, and the cream coloured high yielding (2500kg/ha)variety called Ayiyi which is also resistant to Scab.

Other cowpea varieties developed are the brown seeded AL2018­_078 which is early maturing and high yielding (2600-2650kg/ha also resistant to bacterial blight and the black seededAL2018_16 which is high yielding (2400kg/ha) and resistant to Cercospora Disease.

The centre has also developed five improved varieties of sorghum. They include MaRCCI SORG 1 of 5 tons/ha yield, good for beer and bread and resistant to Sorghum Rust.

students setting up the exhibition materials for sorghum and cowpea foundation seed and value added products

The second sorghum variety is MaRCCI SORG 2 that yields 4.5 tons/ha for local brew and bushera also, resistant to bird damage and Sorghum Head Smut.

The third sorghum variety is MaRCCI SORG 3 with a yield of 5tons/ha, good for beer and bread and resistant to Sorghum Downy, mildew and sorghum Rust.

The fourth light-brown seeded MaRCCI SORG 4 yielding  5 tons/ha is good for local brew, good for bushera and is resistant to bird damage and sorghum Head Smut.

The fifth one is MaRCCI SORG 5 yielding 3.5 tons/ha, good for beer and bread and is resistant to Sorghum Anthracnose and Sorghum Rust.

In addition to breeding, the program is testing potential sorghum hybrids for the commercial beer production and embarked on initiatives to add value to cowpea and sorghum to have better market values.

Report Compiled by
Jane Anyango
Communication Officer, CAES

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