CAES, FAO Uganda conduct training on Digital Soil Mapping

The Department of Agricultural Production, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University in collaboration with FAO Uganda conducted a five-day training on digital soil mapping. The training organized under the framework of the project – Capacity Development on Sustainable Soil Management for Africa, took place at Makerere University from 13th-17th June 2022. It was officially opened by Mr. Anping Ye, Director, Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division, FAO. The opening ceremony was graced by Dr. Querido Antonio, the Food and Agriculture Organisation Country Representative for Uganda; Dr Lui Zhongwei, Senior Programme Officer, Resource Mobilization and Private Sector Partnerships Division, FAO Rome; and Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Deputy Principal, CAES.

Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze (standing) represented the Principal, CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga

The two-year project (July 2020-June 2022) financed by the China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchange (CICETE), Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China aims to develop capacity in sustainable soil management through South-South cooperation, within the framework of Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) and the International Code of Conduct for Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers (the Fertilizer Code), with special focus on balanced fertilization. The project is part of FAO’s efforts to strengthen capacity of public and private institutions and communities to sustainably manage natural resources, restore degraded land and protect vital ecosystems. Partners on the project include Makerere University; FAO Uganda; the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning – Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences; Busiitema University; China Aid; Global Soil Partnership; National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute – Serere, and the National Agricultural Research Laboratories – Kawanda.

Mr Anping Ye, Director, Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division, FAO (R) officially opened the training session.

Objectives of the training

  1. The training aimed to provide an easy to follow and step-by-step course for mapping soil properties.
  2. It also aimed to present methodologies that can be used in soil data cleaning and processing
  3. Providing a user-friendly and introductory course to the R language

Participants included experts from government and research institutions – Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Universities as well as researchers and students with a background in soil, agricultural and environmental sciences.

Course content included; Soil property mapping, soil data cleaning and processing, use of R language in soil mapping and data visualization and delivery.

The training programme was coordinated by Dr Patrick Musinguzi from the Department of Agricultural Production, CAES in collaboration with officials from FAO Uganda.

Dr. Querido Antonio, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Country Representative for Uganda (R) delivering his remarks.

Remarks by Mr. Anping Ye, Director, Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division, FAO

Speaking at opening ceremony, Mr Anping Ye, Director, Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division, FAO underscored the importance of the training noting that sustainable soil management contributes directly and indirectly to the achievement of at least 10 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  “Unsustainable practices lead to the degradation of soil properties and decline in soil productivity. In most developing countries including some in Africa, the decline in productivity is happening at an alarming rate due to inappropriate soil management. The training will largely contribute to building capacity for national soil database and soil monitoring for the key stakeholders in Uganda,” he noted.

Janet Nabwami, Soil Specialist at FAO (L) briefs participants on the project.

Representing the Principal of CAES, the Deputy Principal, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze expressed gratitude to all the partners who supported the training programme. In a special way, he appreciated FAO for always partnering with Makerere University in the areas of research, training and outreach. CAES and FAO continue to work on a number of projects in livestock development, crop production, water management, climate change and food nutrition. In her remarks, the Principal noted that the project had made significant contributions towards soil management and fertilizer application leading to increased productivity and food security.

Dr. Patrick Musinguzi coordinated the training programme.

“In Uganda, proper fertilizer application remains a major challenge. The farmers often get challenged when using fertilizers especially if the fields are highly variable in soil fertility. With the advancement of digital technologies, farmers are now in position to know the status of their soils and the appropriate fertilizers,” she noted. She said the training programme was timely given the rapid technological transformation and that it would largely enhance the capacity of researchers and agricultural extension experts to effectively guide farmers on the most appropriate fertilizers for different fields.

Prof. Bamutaze (L) sharing a light moment with Mr. Anping Ye (R) and Dr. Lui Zhongwei from FAO (C) after the opening ceremony.

Commenting on the relevance of the training, Prof. Bamutaze emphasized the importance of soil in national development and the need to understand soil variations for proper fertilizer application. He called for the development of a national soil database to inform public policy. Prof. Bamutaze informed participants that components of the training course would be integrated in the curriculum.

Dr. Querido Antonio, the Food and Agriculture Organisation Country Representative for Uganda chatting with some of the trainers.

The training ended on 17th June 2022 with more than 30 participants awarded certificates of participation. Representing the Principal of CAES at the closing ceremony, Prof. Fred Kabi emphasized the importance of theoretical grounding in all fields. He reiterated the significance of soil mapping in guiding soil amendments. He appreciated FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) for facilitating the training.

One of the participants in the Digital Soil Mapping training receives a certificate of participation from the First Secretary, Embassy of China in Uganda, Mr Chenxu Wang.

The training was officially closed by the First Secretary, Embassy of China in Uganda, Mr Chenxu Wang.

Participants in a group photo with the First Secretary, Embassy of China in Uganda, Mr Chenxu Wang (6th R) and the representative of the Principal of CAES, Prof. Fred Kabi (7th R) at the end of the training.


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