Timely completion of graduate studies at African universities: Eduardo Mondlane University on track

In November 2016, Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique (UEM), a member of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and part of the consortium implementing the Inter-University Cooperation to Train Crop Scientists for African Agriculture (CSAA) Project funded through the European Union Intra-ACP Academic Mobility Programme, reached a remarkable milestone by graduating nine students with a Master’s Degree in Crop Protection within the prescribed period of two years. Of these students, six were funded by the Intra ACP Academic Mobility Programme, two by RUFORUM and one by the Belgian Cooperation. The students graduated upon successfully completing one year of coursework and a subsequent year of academic research.


Pacesetters: L-R: Joseph Kisitu, Benedict Ssekyanzi, Emmanuel Zuza, Ronald Kityo, Elias Oyesigye & Moses Otuba; some of the students who completed the MSc in Crop Protection at Eduardo Mondlane University in 2016

The Master’s in Crop Protection programme at UEM was launched in 2011 and has been running every two years since then. This cohort was the first to enroll international students and a run a curriculum simultaneously in English and Portuguese since the launch of the programme.

The timely graduation of students by Eduardo Mondlane University highlights some of the quiet success stories at African universities and demonstrates that it is possible to graduate students on time in these institutions, a factor that is important raising credibility and attracting students. Moreover, achieving this success on an international programme illustrates that language barriers can be successfully overcome.


eliasElias Oyesigye was born in Isingiro District in Western Uganda. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture (Crop option) from Makerere University. Elias previously worked with USAID Agriculture and Nutrition Project as a Regional Monitoring Associate in charge of monitoring project work and providing agricultural technical support in six districts of Uganda. Despite his success at this job, Elias was passionate about research and decided to forego his job for further studies.

In 2014, he was admitted at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique where he pursued a Master of Science in Crop Protection and graduated on 25th November 2016. Elias’ studies were funded through a scholarship from the Intra-ACP Mobility Programme. He also received support from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) for his field attachment under the RUFORUM Field Attachment Program Award (FAPA). His research focused on Evaluation of cassava genotypes for resistance and genetic diversity in relation to Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) in Mozambique. CBSD is currently the most devastating disease of cassava in Mozambique, but through his breakthrough research, Elias was able to identify CBSD resistant and tolerant varieties. He has also set up a platform for breeding CBSD resistant varieties in Mozambique. Elias’ research has not only benefited affected communities, but also strengthened the regional cassava germplasm exchange programme.  Contact: eliasogye@gmail.com

benedictBenedict Ssekyanzi was born in Kiboga District in Central Uganda. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture (Crop Science option) from Makerere University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Project Planning and Management from Uganda Management Institute, and a Master’s Degree in Crop Protection from Eduardo Mondlane University.  He previously worked as an Agricultural Officer in Kiboga District, for seven years, after which he served as District Coordinator for the National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAADS) for close to six years.

For his Master’s Degree in Crop Protection, Benedict was sponsored by the Intra-ACP Mobility Programme. His research was on Abundance and distribution of species of Derbidae family on coconut and their association with coconut lethal yellowing disease and was conducted in Inhambane Province in the southern part of Mozambique. Benedict chose to work on a crop that is not common in his home country, Uganda, because the causative agent of the coconut disease affects more than 200 plant species. The knowledge and skills acquired can thus be applied in studies involving other crops. If adopted, the results of his master’s research will contribute to the journey towards economical and sustainable management of coconut lethal yellowing disease in Mozambique where 14-30% of the population derives their livelihood from the crop. Contact: ssekyanzibenedict@gmail.com

ronaldRonald Kityo hails from Wakiso District in Central Uganda. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture from Makerere University and a Master of Science Degree in Crop Protection from Eduardo Mondlane University. Previously, he worked as an Agricultural Advisory Service Provider for crops under the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) Programme in Uganda and, prior to that, as a Field Based Consultant with Bioversity Uganda in charge of establishing and managing the Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW) escaping germplasm trials in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. He also served as a member of the District Adaptive Research Support Team, Kyankwanzi District under the Agricultural Technology and Agribusiness Advisory Services (ATAAS). Ronald has also worked with farmers’ cooperatives in Mubende and Kyankwanzi districts. To advance his technical skills and competence, he pursued the Master of Science Degree in Crop Protection at Eduardo Mondlane University, with sponsorship from the European Commission under the Inter-University Cooperation to Train Crop Scientists for African Agriculture (CSAA) Project.  He also received support from RUFORUM for his field attachment through the competitive Field Attachment Program Award (FAPA). His research focused on Evaluation of the occurrence of parasitoids associated with the invasive coconut whitefly (Aleurotrachelus atratus) in Inhambane Province, southern Mozambique. The study gave recommendations that, if adopted, will set the ground for sustainable management of the invasive coconut whitefly in Mozambique and other coconut growing areas in Africa. Contact: ronaldkityo@gmail.com

josephJoseph Kisitu was born in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Makerere University in Uganda. Joseph has worked as an agronomist at Sunshine Agro-products- a cocoa, banana, herbs and spices producing company in Mpigi District in Central Uganda. He also worked as a Voluntary Research Assistant at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Namulonge, Uganda, and on a number of short term contracts on research and data collection in various organizations.

In a bid to upgrade his professional profile, Joseph pursued a Master of Science in Crop Protection at Eduardo Mondlane University, under scholarship from the European Commission funded Inter-University Cooperation to Train Crop Scientists for African Agriculture (CSAA). To support his research, Joseph also received support from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) through the Field Attachment Program Award. Joseph’s research centred on the Distribution and characterization of cowpea genotypes for resistance to root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.). The study provided recommendations that will help in reducing cowpea yield loss due to rootknot nematode infection. Contact:  jspkst@gmail.com

mosesMoses Amugoli Otuba was born in Bukedea District in Eastern Uganda, and obtained his Bachelor of Agriculture degree from Gulu University in the northern part of the country. He previously worked with the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) in Kaabong District in the semi-arid Karamoja Region, and at the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute in Serere District in Eastern Uganda. Moses received a scholarship from the Intra-ACP Mobility Project to undertake a Master of Science in Crop Protection degree at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique. He graduated in November 2016. His research focused on the Diversity of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense in Mozambique and associated in-vitro response to fungicides, bio-control agents and phenolic compounds. This research was supported with a grant in form of a Field Attachment Program Award (FAPA) from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), and provided recommendations that lay ground for the management of Panama disease in Mozambique. Contact: mozes.otuba@gmail.com

emmanuelEmmanuel Zuza grew up in rural Southern Malawi, where his university fees was paid through proceeds from the sale of groundnuts, maize, soybeans and pigeon peas grown on the family farm. He served as a Project Coordinator with the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM), working with women smallholder farmers to produce safe groundnuts in Malawi. While at NASFAM, he realized there was a knowledge gap in aflatoxin management- one of the major concerns in safe production of groundnuts- and sought to fill in this gap. The opportunity came in form of a scholarship from the Intra-ACP Mobility Project to study for a Master’s Degree in Crop Protection at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique. Groundnut is the third most important crop in Mozambique after maize and cassava, occupying the largest area among the grain legumes in the country. He followed his interest and focused his research on Evaluating the effect of various groundnut harvesting dates and drying methods on the prevention of aflatoxin contamination. This research was funded through a Field Attachment Program Award (FAPA) from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). The study recommended the training of farmers on timely harvesting of their groundnuts as harvesting too early or too late often results in higher levels of aflatoxin contamination. It also recommended that farmers should be discouraged from drying their groundnuts on bare soil. Contact: manzyzuzajnr@gmail.com

massambyAndreia Mahalia Maulide Massamby was born in Maputo, Mozambique. She obtained a Bachelor in Agricultural Engineering from Eduardo Mondlane University in 2014. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies, Andreia commenced a two-year master´s degree with a scholarship funded by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) through a Graduate Research Grant awarded to Dr Domingos Cugala. Andreia has acquired skills in the field of crop protection with particular emphasis in entomology. Her research focused on the Assessment of distribution and pest status of papaya mealybug (Paracoccus marginatus) and prediction of potential areas at risk of invasion using ecological niche model in Mozambique. She anticipates that this research will contribute to increasing papaya production among smallholder farmer production systems through strategic reduction of P. marginatus population density and associated pest damage. Contact: andreia.massamby@gmail.com

miguelOlzura da Encarnação Miguel was born in Maputo, Mozambique and has a zeal to champion change among smallholder farmers in Mozambique as a mechanism to contributing economic growth, better livelihoods and sustainable development. Olzura holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomic Engineering and a Master’s in Crop Protection, both from Eduardo Mondlane University. For her master’s degree, she merited a scholarship funded by RUFORUM through a Graduate Research Grant awarded to Dr Domingos Cugala of Eduardo Mondlane University. Her research focused on Establishment, assessment and impact of exotic parasitoids on the population of the papaya mealybug, Paracoccus marginatus. This study was designed as a response to the recent outbreak of papaya mealybug which had devastating impacts in Mozambique. The control mechanisms available at the time, such as the chemical control approaches were, however, not economically viable for the smallholder farmers that constitute the majority of papaya producers. Her study thus investigated the alternative approach of using natural and/or biological control that was seen as a more economically and environmentally viable strategy for the suppression of this pest, in order to provide information for evidence-based decision making. Contact: zuramiguel@gmail.com

luisLuis Bota comes from a farming family in the city of Beira, Central Mozambique where he was born and completed his secondary school education. He later obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Engineering from University of Eduardo Mondlane in 2010. Luis has always had a passion for agriculture. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he started working as Coordinator of a Project for Soybean Promotion in Nhamatanda District in Central Mozambique. In 2011, he moved on to the Directorate of Agriculture in the Province of Manica as the focal point of fruit fly activities including monitoring and management. After the first fruit fly laboratory in Mozambique was constructed in Manica, he was appointed as the Head of the Laboratory. Here, the main activity was the mass rearing of fruit flies (Bactrocera dorsalis) and parasitoids (Diachasmimorpha longicaudata and Fopius arisanus) for biological control. In 2015, Luis received a scholarship from the Belgian Cooperation to study for a Master’s in Crop Protection at Eduardo Mondlane University. His research aimed at Evaluating the spatio-temporal microdynamic of fruit flies on a mango orchard in Central Mozambique. The results of this study will help mango farmers to optimize the management of fruit flies by controlling where and when the flies appear.  In a rare feat, Luis completed his master’s degree within 18 months; six months ahead of time. He is back in Manica and resumed his job as head of the fruit fly laboratory. Contact: luisbota@yahoo.com.br


luisaDr Luisa A. Santos holds a PhD in Entomology, a Master’s Degree in Applied Entomology and a Bachelor’s in Agronomy. She is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering of Eduardo Mondlane University (EMU) and has more than 30 years of university teaching experience in agricultural entomology and integrated pest management. Her research and extension activities have focused on the design and implementation of integrated pest management programs with the main objective of developing, testing and disseminating integrated pest management practices (in cotton, maize, cabbage, coconut, among other crops) for small scale farmers in Mozambique. From 2001 to 2004, she collaborated with the Ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology of Mozambique, and she chaired a national committee responsible for the design and introduction of a National System of Quality Assurance for the Higher Education Sector in Mozambique. She also chaired the national commission that led to the creation of three polytechnic institutes in Manica, Tete and Gaza in Mozambique. From 2011 to 2014, she served as Coordinator of the Centre for Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Studies (CEAGRE) at the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering of EMU. Currently, she is the Quality Assurance Office Director of EMU, a position she has held since May 2013. Contact: luisasantos47@gmail.com

ana-mariaAna Maria da Graça Mondjana, a Mozambican citizen, holds a PhD and MSc degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, and a BSc (Honors) degree in Agronomy from Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM). She has extensive experience in teaching at graduate and post-graduate levels, in management, as well as in basic and applied research and extension. She has been a faculty member at the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering at UEM since 1983, where she has been teaching college and post-graduate courses in Plant Pathology and related areas and she had supervised various BSc, MSc and PhD students. During her career, she has held several responsibilities outside academic work and occupied various management positions at the faculty and university level. From 2011 to 2016 she served as Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at Eduardo Mondlane University and had previously been the Dean for Research of UEM. In relation to research, she led a considerable number of national and regional research projects, with emphasis on plant disease epidemiology and control strategies, from which several publications (as author and co-author) were produced. She has also served in various national and international scientific committees. Contact: anamondjana@gmail.com


Dr Domingos Cugala was born in Chemba, Sofala Province in Mozambique. He holds a BSc (honours) in Agronomy from Eduardo Mondlane University and is also an alumnus of University of Zimbabwe and Kenyatta University with academic training in Crop Protection (entomology and biological control of invasive insect species). Due to the research done under the RUFORUM grant for the MSc programme, Dr Cugala joined the group of scientists working on biological control of insect pests and was then selected for a doctoral research fellowship under the African Regional Postgraduate Programme in Insect Sciences (ARPPIS) based at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). Currently, he is a senior lecturer and researcher at the Department of Crop Protection, Faculty of Agronomy and Forest Engineering at Eduardo Mondlane University where he teaches courses in Agricultural Entomology, Agricultural pest management, Biological Control, Scientific Research Methods and Insect Ecology. He has won two competitive research grants from RUFORUM, which he led as a Principal Investigator; first in 2010 (3 students were graduated). In 2012, one of his students was awarded one of the 10 best posters during the RUFORUM Biennial Conference. Dr Cugala has had an illustrious career in research and development in agricultural pest management focusing on sustainable management of invasive insect species. He has participated in more than 16 national, regional and international research projects where he acted as coordinator. Dr Cugala has authored over 30 papers published in scientific journals and conference proceedings, and prepared several scientific reports. Contact: dcugala@gmail.com

ameliaDr Amelia Jorge Sidumo  is a lecturer in the Department of Crop Protection, at the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering at Eduardo Mondlane University (FAFE-EM) and head of the department. She holds a PhD in Agronomy with a minor in Agricultural Economics from Texas Tech University in the USA and a Master’s degree in Entomology, with a minor in Geographic Information Systems from Cornell University. Currently, she is also the Country Coordinator for the Better Cotton Initiative, a programme aimed at boosting the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the cotton sector through providing technical assistance to the Cotton Institute of Mozambique and other cotton subsector stakeholders. She has designed and led the implementation of many research projects on pest management in Mozambique, including the pilot project for the Integrated Pest Management of Cotton Pests, a collaboration between FAFE-EM, the Cotton Institute of Mozambique, the Mozambican Agrarian Research Institute and the cotton concessions, with funding from the World Bank. In addition to research, she has also engaged in several consultancies; conducting project baseline surveys and assessments of agricultural projects and programmes including the Final evaluation of the first phase of national agriculture development programme PROAGRI I (1999-2005) where she was responsible for research and extension, and human resources case studies. She has published more than five articles in peer reviewed journals. Contact: asidumo2@gmail.com

bilaDr João Bila holds a PhD in Plant Pathology from the Swedish Agricultural University of Sciences, an MSc in Agricultural Development with a major in plant protection from University of Copenhagen, and a BSc in Agronomy from Eduardo Mondlane University (EMU). Since 2005, he has been a lecturer at the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering at EMU where he is involved in teaching, research and rural extension activities.  As a lecturer, he has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in plant pathology, biological control of pests and diseases; integrated management of pest and diseases, seed pathology and plant protection. His research and extension interests have mainly been focused on the epidemiology and management of plant diseases including: coconut lethal yellowing disease, cabbage black rot disease, fungal pathogens and mycotoxins associated with peanuts and maize grains, cashew anthracnose disease, Tomato curly stunt leaf disease, cashew-nut and soybean diseases. He is member of a number of international scientific and professional organizations including the African Crop Science Society, Pathway Evaluation and Pest Risk Management in Transport (PERMIT), COGENT International Thematic Action Group on Phytopathology and coconut germplasm movements and the International Phytoplasma Working Group. Dr Bila has authored more than five articles in peer reviewed journals. Contact: jbilay@gmail.com

Neglected Insects as a remedy for food insecurity: the case of crickets

By Carolyne Kipkoech, PhD student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology

Carolyne Kipkoech, PhD student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology

Carolyne Kipkoech, PhD student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology

I am a Kenyan national, with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where I graduated in 2005. I always had a passion for disease prevention, which is why I later studied a Master of Science in Immunology at Moi University where I graduated in 2009.  After my master’s degree, I worked with the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) Programme. This exposed me to the broader field of Public Health, although still with a focus on disease prevention though improved nutrition.

In 2015, I merited a scholarship under the Danish Agency for International Development through GREEiNSECT to undertake a PhD in Food Science and Nutrition at JKUAT. For my thesis research, I am working on “Use of edible cricket to improve child nutrition in Kenya”. My inspiration for this topic was derived from the fact that house crickets (Acheta domesticus), common across Africa, are a highly valuable yet neglected source of proteins.

Insects are a delicacy in many parts of the world, including Africa, but for many communities in Africa they do not constitute a main diet. Crickets in particular have higher quality animal protein than some conventional sources, such as fish, and are more affordable among poor communities.  Additionally, they thrive in various environmental conditions -including dry areas, they multiply in a short span of two months, use very little space, and feed on organic waste that they then turn into high quality protein. They can thus be a viable solution to food security challenges. Given the nutritional importance of crickets and other edible insects, I am keen, as a young researcher, to build a research agenda on the use of insects as food.

When I started my research on crickets, many friends and colleagues at the university wondered what I was up to. To them it was a laughing matter. Nonetheless, I soldiered on and the first time I harvested crickets, everyone I run in to on campus stopped to look. I smiled as I proudly showed off the crickets and some even followed me to the lab to see what I would do next.

Once at the lab, I dipped one part of the crickets into hot water for one minute and then sun-dried them to be later ground for use in making porridge, cookies and other sweet delicacies. The other part I deep-fried to get crispy crickets that would be eaten whole by those brave enough. To my surprise, the deep fried crickets were everyone’s favourite because of their delicious aroma and taste.


The biggest endorsement of our cricket products happened during the Sixth Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development (TICAD) held in Nairobi in 2016. At a conference pre-event hosted at JKUAT, the Vice Chancellor invited the conference participants to sample our crickets. You would not believe what happened after the invitation; everyone was keen to sample the crickets! They tasted not once, not twice, but took several helpings until there was no more! The enthusiastic reception of the cricket meal could have also been due to the presence of participants from different countries, continents and cultures, some of whom had tasted cricket before and helped to demystify their consumption as food.


After this exposition, the crickets were on high demand in JKUAT and its environs and the story made news in the Kenyan media.


With the increasing global population, one of the strategies to improve food and nutrition security is to diversify diets using available food sources. We actually have plenty of food around us, but we do not exploit it. I look forward to the day when crickets will be widely accepted across cultures in Africa and world over as part of the daily diet so that more people will get access to quality cheap protein.

Kenya is already taking maiden steps towards exploiting the high protein value of crickets by using it to address child malnutrition. A pilot initiative in Uasin Gishu County, is currently providing cricket porridge to school going children between the ages of three and five years. It is my wish that other countries and communities will follow suit and make use of this wonder food.

Both Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) and Moi University that the writer attended, are members of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). RUFORUM is a Network of 66 universities in 26 countries in Africa. Carolyn Kipkoech can be contacted on: kipkoechcarolyne@gmail.com or carokoech@yahoo.com


Enhancing Collaboration and Quality in Postgraduate Training: Joint Module Training Delivery in RUFORUM Regional Programmes

In its efforts to strengthen the quality of post graduate training programmes and partnerships, RUFORUM and the member universities are using a combination of innovative approaches in the curriculum design and delivery of the regional postgraduate training programmes. A case is the RUFORUM multidisciplinary PhD programme in Agriculture Rural Innovation (ARI) which is hosted simultaneously by three RUFORUM member universities (Makerere University- Uganda, Egerton University – Kenya and Sokoine University of Agriculture – Tanzania) using same curriculum and content. The PhD ARI Program is implemented in collaboration with three other European universities namely Montpellier Sup Agro in France, Wagenigen University in the Netherlands and University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

With financial support from Carnegie Cooperation of New York, RUFORUM supported the joint implementation of field based module on Participatory Methods and Action Research for innovation in livelihoods and agricultural systems offered under the  PhD Agricultural and Rural Innovations (ARI). This module is unique in delivery as it brings together students from the three universities in Africa and three universities in Europe to a Common facility.  This year’s field training took place in Rakai District in Uganda. A total of 18 students and five academic staff from the consortium spent two weeks in the field to learn together with farming communities. The students were from Africa (DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda); Europe (France and Spain); and Latin America (Guatemala). Female participants represented 31.6%. The diversity of students and staff was a learning resource that enabled substantial cross learning and complementarity of skills.

Above: PhD students in Rakai Working with Communities

Above: PhD students in Rakai Working with Communities

The joint module provides valuable insights on how scientists could engage with communities to undertake research for development. This gives opportunities to students to rethink and nest their research into development challenges of communities as well as apply some of the tools learnt in their own research.

Below there is an anecdotal testimony from one of the students of the field module: “The course offers a different approach to research diversity such as agro-ecological zonation, farm strategy model, and innovation histories as an alternative to statistical representativeness. The most exciting are the hands-on tools and combined approaches such as the use of GPS, GIS, Innovation Histories and Trends which we used to comprehensively understand the communities and their livelihood dynamics. At the end of the course we had an exciting feedback session to provide insights on possible innovative solutions for improving livelihood of these communities. It was good to note the keen interest of the NGOs and policy makers working in the area to take on the suggestions and implement them. I also appreciated an opportunity for co-learning, experience sharing, and team work with fellow classmates from various countries and cultures”.  Mrs. Dorcas Loga Okello

A number of spillover effects have emerged for this arrangement which include; opportunities for joint supervisor of the students by European and African staff hence sustaining partnerships, cross cultural learning, assured consistent quality of the ARI brand (student) across the participating universities. Click here to read more.

Improving productivity of indigenous chicken in Northern Uganda

By Christine Nakkazi

Over 80% of rural households in Northern Uganda keep chicken, mostly local breeds kept under the free-range production system. However, these indigenous chicken exhibit low turnover and low growth rate due to poor management and inadequate feeding which challenges their ability to play their role as sources of food security and income.

The Enhancing Local Chicken Productivity through Strategic Breeding and Nutrition Management in Northern Uganda (ELOCHIP) Project, funded by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) under the Competitive Grants System, sought to enhance the productivity of indigenous chicken in this region through improved nutrition and breeding.

As a graduate student and member of the research team, I was engaged in the nutrition and chicken management component of the project. My research aimed at improving the performance of indigenous chickens through improved feeding and management. Since the majority of farmers left their chicken to scavenge freely, the birds did not meet their nutritional requirements for optimal growth and production because scavengeable feed resources were scarce, highly variable and of questionable nutritional value. Therefore it was prudent to identify local feed resources in the area, determine their chemical composition, formulate diets, and encourage farmers to adopt better management systems of rearing indigenous chicken such as semi-scavenging and intensive systems.

Formulating nutritious diets

Together with 120 farmers, the project team identified the local feed resources available for feeding chicken as well as the management practices in Northern Uganda and used this information to design feeding strategies. The research revealed that feeds were not compounded into simple diets. Farmers were indiscriminately providing energy-rich grains such as maize, sorghum, millet to all chicken groups. After determining the chemical composition of the local feedstuffs, the team formulated diets with varying levels of protein and energy and tested them on-farm to select the diet that resulted in best growth performance of the indigenous chicken. Farmers were engaged at all stages of the research and were trained on aspects of improved flock management such as brooding, disease control, record keeping, and synchronized hatching.

Because of the increasing market demand for indigenous chicken, some farmers sought to commercialize their production. These farmers made use of the diets recommended by the study under the intensive management system. They were further trained on how to synchronize hatching and brood using locally made pots as a source of heat to allow the mother hens an early return into lay. With these improvements, the chicken reached market weight in 4.5-5 months compared to the 6 month minimum required in the traditional management system.

Continue reading