Highlights from the Vice Chancellor's Media Briefing: 27th November 2017

Presenters at Vice Chancellor's Media Briefing: 27th November 2017

The Monthly Vice Chancellor (VC) Media Briefing was held on Monday 27th November 2017 in the Senior Common Room in the Main Building at Makerere University. The College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS) was invited to present their research updates alongside the VC - Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe. In his presentation, Prof. Nawangwe stressed the importance of research to policy calling for more support to Makerere as a powerhouse of research innovations in Africa and globally. He also launched the Mak Bulletin.The Principal of CoNAS, Prof. Mugisha J.Y.T. gave an overview of the college. Principal Investigators of some of the projects at the college shared updates from the research that they undertaking.Dr. Tugume Arthur from the Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology & Biotechnology presented his project titled, ‘Integrated Crop Management for Scaling-up Banana Productivity in East Africa’. The research is implemented by a partnership between the College of Natural Sciences (Makerere University) through the Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology working with: NARO-NARL, Banana Research program (Main grantee), Uganda; International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); Agricultural Research & Development Institute (ARDI)-Tengeru, Tanzania; Agricultural Research & Development Institute (ARDI)-Maruku, Tanzania; and Bioversity International. It is a four-year project worth USD 5,700,000 (US Dollars Five million and seven hundred thousand) funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Jerome Kubiriba is the overall project Team Leader and is also the Head of Uganda’s National Banana Research Program of NARO at Kawanda. Role of CoNAS, Makerere University: Under the leadership of Dr. Arthur K. Tugume the focus is on addressing a basic scientific detail of unravelling the mechanisms by which banana plants recover from Xcm bacterial infestation, using laboratory- screenhouse- and field-based methods. The most important beneficiaries of all this research are: Smallholder banana farmers in Uganda and Tanzania, and entire ECA regions; Research fraternity with the new knowledge from the project through increased banana productivity; Private sector will establish demand for their produce; Media will improve their capacity to more accurately document and report agricultural development; Extension workers will build capacity through technical information from project; and Partnerships will be enhanced among the institutions working on the project.Assoc. Prof. Anne Akol from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Science  presented her work titled, Enhancing production and incomes in the honey value chain by addressing the challenge of pests and parasites of honeybees in Uganda’, codenamed ‘BeeHealth’ project. BeeHealth project which is the first of its kind in Uganda aims at addressing the pest challenges of honeybees. The intended goals of the project are: To identify the main pests afflicting honeybee colonies in Uganda; Develop solutions to the pests and; Improve the capacity of beekeepers to identify and manage these pests. A rapid diagnostic survey undertaken revealed that extension services are woefully inadequate for beekeepers. Such inadequate extension services means that many beekeepers are not able to attain optimal hive yields and/or product quality can be compromised. Thus, the country’s projected potential for hive products, particularly of honey and beeswax will not be realized until major interventions are taken to address production constraints at the apiary level. Pests and diseases are an important constraint in production – honeybee colonies may become debilitated or lost through abscondment while yields of honey and beeswax can drop substantially.Other presenters were the Academic Registrar – Mr. Alfred Namoah Wasikye, University Secretary – Mr. Charles Barugahare and Director Planning & Development – Dr. Florence Nakayiwa. They gave updates on end of semester exams, Makerere Holdings Company and Makerere Investors Conference slated for 5th December 2017.