Mak Hosts 2nd African Conference on Precision Agriculture- (AfCPA) 2022

Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) represented by Dr. Patrick Musinguzi, a Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Production, hosted a satellite event of the 2nd African Conference on Precision Agriculture (AfCPA) on 7th-9th December 2022, at Protea Hotel in Kampala, Uganda. AfCPA is a biennial event and an initiative of the African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI) in partnership with Muhammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA), and the African Association for Precision Agriculture (AAPA). The satellite event offered an opportunity for the local presenters and stakeholders to participate in the main conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, on issues of precision agriculture as a novel management approach for optimizing soil/crop health and productivity. The mission of AfCPA is to build a forum dedicated to “connecting the science and practice needed to put precision agriculture in action for Africa.”

Dr. Patrick Musinguzi, Lecturer Department of Agricultural Production, CAES Makerere University, and organizer of the conference

The conference was sponsored by OCP Africa, Global Phosphorous Institute, 4R Solution Global Affairs Canada, Digital Agriculture Convergence Laboratory, and Investiv. The conference aimed at strengthening and supporting the precision agriculture community within the African context. The conference engaged stakeholders including scientists, policy makers, extension staff, crop consultants and advisors, agronomists and service providers towards a common goal of building the capacity and resilience of African cropping systems.

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

AfCPA partner organizations that served as national satellite site hosts included:

  • National Polytechnic Institute Félix Houphouët-Boigny (INP-HB), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
  • National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS), Cairo, Egypt
  • Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • CSIR-Savanna Agriculture Research Institute, Tamale, Ghana
  • Nassarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • Advanced School of Agronomy/University of Lomé (ESA-UL), Lomé, Togo
  • National Institute of Agronomic Research of Tunisia (INRAT), Tunis, Tunisia
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
    Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
  • Plant Production Sciences and Technologies, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Participants during day one of AfCPA conference

Strategies to promote rapid adoption of precision agriculture 

Education: Schools especially higher institutions of learning like universities should develop programmes and expand curricula to spur digital innovation and skills development of precision agriculture technologies and techniques.

Youth inclusion programmes: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) should focus on youth inclusion and create programmes targeted towards the youth to educate, train and challenge them to engage in precision agriculture advancement.

Strengthening collaborations and knowledge sharing: Local organizations and international bodies should develop partnerships that ensure cross-fertilization of knowledge, ideas, and technologies in precision agriculture, with youth in the picture.

Research engagement: The youth are the powerhouse of innovative ideas and they posses the stamina needed in research that would advance precision agriculture. Research programmes must be developed to target and leverage the strength of the youth in Africa.

Policy Development: Government at all levels must develop policies and regulations that favour the advancement of precision agriculture in Africa, while encouraging the youth to lead with technology development and start innovations that promote precision agriculture.

Finance towards research and youth-led AgTech startup/SMEs: Precision agriculture product development especially in the African local context requires generous funding to prototype. Therefore funding is critically important to cause significant progress and to speed up precision agriculture in Africa.

Community engagement: The concept of precision agriculture comes with ideologies and it is vital to use the power of community engagement to bring about ideological change for rapid adoption of precision agriculture in Africa. The youth are valuable agency to deliver this change. When the youth accept precision agriculture, they easily influence the narrative its favour.

Dr. Mildred Ochwo, Head department of Agricultural Production, CAES

In her remarks, Dr. Mildred Ochwo, Head department of Agricultural Production, CAES said strengthening Networks would greatly boost precision agriculture in Africa.

Participants during day two of AfCPA conference

The Deputy Principal of CAES, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze cited the need to embrace and optimize emerging technologies intended improve agricultural productivity. Prof. Bamutaze aslo noted the need for Uganda’s commitment to collecting quality data. “We need to redirect our efforts to data collection consistently in a clean way for science to work. With poor quality data you can not run simulations or models, and targeted interventions. We all have to work together towards this,” he said. According to Prof. Bamutaze, Uganda as a country is increasingly appreciating technology, and with leadership, we can work together, setup trials to ensure that what we are doing goes to the next level.

Participants during day one of the satellite event

Prof. Bamutazenoted that the College was keen to work with partners, through student-staff mobilities. Prof. Bamutaze appealed to government for funding in order to produce competent students. “We can’t develop the country without good capital base, which requires resources,” he said.

Participants during day two of the satellite event

According to Mr. Fred Kabango, Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the ministry has undertaken many initiatives like climate smart agriculture, geared towards addressing the effects of climate change. Mr. Kabango called for adoption of precision agriculture as a measure to improve productivity. In achieving NDP Goal 3, on industrialization, were, one of the pillars is to increase production and productivity, Mr. Kabango emphasized the need to look at agriculture as business, and to retool farmers with the best agricultural practices.

Mr. Fred Kabango, Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries

Mr. Paul Senyange, Project Manager Eservices, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITAU) presented an assessment of how the Authority can support the implementation of precision agriculture through Agriculture technology initiatives discussed in the conference. Mr. Senyange presented a number of ideas on how NITAU can support the initiative including: creating an enabling environment with special focus on necessary laws, connecting through the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI), supporting data sharing and security through the UGHUB which is a Government integration platform, supporting unit hosting of applications in the current cloud data centre, and supporting innovations and eservices in the precision agriculture space.

Mr. Paul Senyange, Project Manager Eservices, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITAU)

 

Article Written By Kasemiire Mariam, Web Administrator, CAES

 

 



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