RUFORUM student wins award during the NARO-MAK Conference, 2016

Above: Boris Alladassi receiving his award as Dr. Imeda (center) look on Prof. Bashasa (Right)

Above: Boris Alladassi receiving his award as Dr. Imeda (center) look on Prof. Bashasa (Right)

Boris M. Alladassi a RUFORUM sponsored student from Benin emerged among the three overall winners in the category of Poster presentation. His research presentation focused on “Screening common bean germplasm for leaf and pod resistance to common bacteria blight in Uganda”. RUFORUM supported eighteen international students to participate in the conference as part of research dissemination, mentorship and networking.

The participating students expressed the benefits of the  NARO-MAK Conference  as echoed by Mr. Emmanuel Kodwo Mensah that “this opportunity has allowed me to form new networks for collaboration with other persons and institutions across Africa and beyond”. Emmanuel’s participation and that of other international students increased the inter-cultural diversity of the NARO-MAK Conference, 2016.

Above: Mensah Emmanuel during his presentation at the NAROMAK conference, 2016

Above: Mensah Emmanuel during his presentation at the NAROMAK conference, 2016

The Conference attracted close to 400 participants and was organized by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and Makerere University under the theme “Agricultural Research and Innovation for Socio-Economic Transformation”.

The conference was opened by Hon. Vincent Ssempijja Bamulangak, Cabinet Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries. Dr. Ambrose Agona the Director General, NARO reaffirmed the need for cutting edge research and called on the Government of Uganda to take up the conference resolutions for implementation to ensure transformation and realization of the vision2040 for Uganda. The Conference was held at the Munyonyo Common Commonwealth Resort Hotel in Uganda.

Saving the Mozambique coconut: Uganda’s Ronald Kityo discovers parasitoids for the coconut whitefly

Delicious: The author enjoying the coconut fruit

Delicious: The author enjoying the coconut fruit

By Ronald Kityo

Armed with an Intra-ACP Mobility scholarship, blessings from my family, but no knowledge of Portuguese, I travelled to the Portuguese speaking country of Mozambique in 2015 to study for a Masters in Crop Protection at Eduardo Mondlane University. This trip was  my first long flight out of Uganda.

The weather in Mozambique was quite unfriendly, being either too cold or too hot depending on the season. Under these same conditions, though, coconuts in Mozambique thrived. The southern Africa country is the fourth largest producer of coconut in Africa. With over 100 products extracted from various parts of the plant, the coconut industry in Mozambique provides jobs for more than 80% of the active workforce and contributes to food security especially in the rural areas along the coast. I had seen coconut trees in Uganda, but I only got to taste the fruit while in Mozambique. What a delight it was.

However, coconut production in Mozambique is threatened by the coconut whitefly (Aleurotrachelus atratus) a tiny destructive pest which over the past six years has accounted for 70% of annual crop losses. The gravity of this threat to the country’s golden crop inspired me to undertake research on how to curb the problem.

My research sought to find parasitoids of the white fly as a means of biological control. Unlike parasites which do not necessarily kill their hosts, parasitoids always do, but no known parasitoids had been associated with this white fly since its discovery in Mozambique in 2011.

Searching for palm leaflets infested by the white fly

Searching for palm leaflets infested by the white fly

The search for parasitoids took me to the southern province of Inhambane, about 500 km away from Maputo. There I discovered, for the first time in Mozambique, four parasitoid species associated with the coconut whitefly. The study made recommendations that, if adopted, will contribute to the sustainable management of the invasive coconut whitefly in Mozambique and other coconut growing areas in Africa.

Studying in a country where the official language was different from that at home was a bit challenging, but thanks to the design of the Intra-ACP Mobility Program, our classes were taught in English. Otherwise, we would have had to spend a full year learning Portuguese before starting the course. We still took classes to learn basic Portuguese. Three months of class were enough for us to acquire basic communication skills and interact with the community around us.

The Intra-ACP Project Coordinator at Eduardo Mondlane University, Dr. Domingos Cugala, was a very good administrator, manager and like a father to me. I was lucky that he became my academic supervisor because he is an entomologist. He was greatly amazed by my openness to learning in his field of interest because my background was in Horticultural Sciences. Thanks to him, I progressed through my research very fast. In fact, by the first month of the first trimester I had already started writing my research proposal alongside the course work. I completed my Masters training ahead of schedule and will be graduating in the last week of November 2016.

 Ronald Kityo was a beneficiary of the Intra- ACP Academic Mobility Project. The project on “Inter-University Cooperation to Train Crop Scientists for African Agriculture (CSAA) was a result of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture effort to mobilize a consortium of Universities to undertake collaborative action that is envisaged to contributed to enhanced regional learning and quality postgraduate training. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Makerere University, Uganda and is scheduled to graduate (last Week of November 2016) with a Masters in Crop Protection at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo. Email:

Related resources

Related resources

RUFORUM meets staff from Okayama University, Japan

Strengthening Japan-Africa collaboration on higher education: Officials from RUFORUM, Makerere University and Okayama University meeting in Kampala

Strengthening Japan-Africa collaboration on higher education: Officials from RUFORUM, Makerere University and Okayama University meeting in Kampala

RUFORUM’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, and his deputy, Dr. Moses Osiru, met with staff from Okayama University’s Faculty of Agriculture and the Institute of Plant Science and Resources (IPSR) on 10th November 2016 to discuss possible collaboration. The half-day meeting organized by Dr. Arthur Tugume of Makerere University, was held at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) offices in Kampala, Uganda. Also in attendance were other staff from Makerere University’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the College of Natural Sciences.

During the meeting, Prof. Wataru Sakamoto, Deputy Director of IPSR highlighted key programs at the institute and various opportunities for collaboration. He noted the long history of Okayama University working with Africa through collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya including through the African Union-African Innovation-JKUAT and PAUSTI Network Project that brings together JKUAT and the Pan African University of Science, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI). He also noted the need to expand this collaboration to Makerere University and other partners such as RUFORUM. He highlighted IPSR’s research experience on plant stress science, barley, wild plants, and future crops.

Prof. Yasutaka Kubo, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Okayama University, noted that his faculty has experience in international collaboration and looks forward to receiving more graduate students from Africa.

On his part, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu shared RUFORUM’s focus on strengthening North-South partnerships to improve centers of excellence in Africa and the importance of staff and student mobility to improve the quality of higher education on the continent. He called for stronger collaboration between higher education institutions in Africa and Japan.

A life changing experience

Written by: Sesethu Nyeleka, University of Fort Hare, South Africa

Sesethu Nyeleka (Right), Professor V. (Center) and  Muchenje, Avela Mxhunyelwa (Left) at the just concluded RUFORUM Biennial Conference, 2016

Sesethu Nyeleka (Right), Professor V. Mxhunyelwa (Center) and Muchenje Avela (Left) at the just concluded RUFORUM Biennial Conference, 2016

The fifth biennial RUFORUM conference held from the 17th to the 21st of October was the first of its kind on the South African Soil. The conference took place at Century City Conference Center in Cape Town, co-organized with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Centre for Coordinating Agricultural Research in Southern Africa (CCARDESA), and six RUFORUM member universities in South Africa namely Stellenbosch University, University of Free State, University of Fort Hare, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Pretoria and University of Venda. This year’s theme was Linking Agricultural Universities with Civil society, the Private Sector, Governments and other stake holders in support of Agricultural Development in Africa.

The event brings African Universities together to share knowledge and expertise in various agricultural fields. It also presents a great opportunity for one to socialize and build a network across Africa. The conference was graced by a number of Heads of State both from Africa and abroad, chairperson of the African Union H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, University Vice Chancellors from Across Africa, industry experts and students.

This year was my first appearance at the RUFORUM Conference and I had no idea what to expect. I only could relate with the conference particularly through its relevancy to my academic work. However, all my expectations were exceeded. I was blown away by the excellence and the quality of work that was delivered at the conference both by university researchers and industry experts.

I could not have anticipated the light bulb moments I had from listening, leaning and interacting with the different personalities. I particularly enjoyed the session titled “Integrating video-mediated rural learning in University curricula”. That session for me was my “aha” moment as it demonstrated the possibilities of how I too can make a contribution towards improving agricultural services to those who need them the most. From the session, I learnt how the lives of smallholder farmers can be positively impacted through video learning.

Having African Universities share their African experiences and knowledge was inspirational and left me challenged to do my part to contribute towards the Africa that the rest of the Africans and I envisage.

Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and indeed RUFORUM Conference made me realise that we can influence the world through African eyes and that is possible.

Professor Muchenje, Dr Njisane with the University of Fort Hare Post Graduate Students

Professor Muchenje, Dr Njisane and University of Fort Hare Post Graduate Students

Attending the conference was an eye-opening experience for me because the knowledge imparted on me, particularly knowledge about African Extension Services has changed my perception about the future of Small-holder farmers in Africa. Through this conference, I have realized that the future of Africa is in the hands of those who are passionate about influencing positive change to the continent.

Kwame Nkrumah put it this way “I am not an Africans because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me” which makes me believe that Africans young and old are more than capable of building their continent.