The National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) is seeking 290.6 billion shillings for its various research programmes on among others vaccines for diseases including African Swine Fever and Foot and Mouth Disease.
The body also wants to develop an “aflasafe facility” to curb the challenge of aflatoxins to facilitate agro industrialisation in the country.
Most of Ugandan products have been denied export license because of poor quality characterized by contamination.
NARO Deputy Director General, Dr Yona Baguma made this revelation to the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) team led by OWC Deputy Coordinator, Lt Gen Charles Angina as the latter visited NARO’s National Livestock Resources Research Institute, Nakyesasa.
“There are areas where we have made significant progress but we still need support to move them to the next level. NARO has made advances in vaccine research. For us as NARO, to be able to deliver ultimate products to the people of this country, we need some additional support. If we are to get an investment of 20 billion per year for 5 years, making it 100 billion, we should be able to rollout all these products in a maximum of 5 years,” Baguma said.
For the 2020/21 financial year, Baguma said, the Government has so far provided a total of 15 billion shillings for vaccine research, but added that they are still having a gap of 7.5 billion shillings.
“That is an area of research for which we are putting the request before you to help us.”
NARO exhibited to OWC team how it’s research is promoting agro industrialisation in Uganda. Among the research technologies developed is an anti-tick vaccine developed to protect cattle from being attacked by ticks since many ticks have become resistant to acaricides. Once a cow is vaccinated, it takes over 6 months before it is vaccinated again.
Baguma also raised the red flag about the consumption of food with aflatoxins.
NARO, he said has developed “Smart Solutions” technology which can provide control of aflatoxins right from the field up to the level of the product.
Although Government has set aside a minimum budget to NARO to set up an “afla safe facility,” Baguma says they still need 3 billion shillings to complete the facility.
“For us as NARO to be able to complete this facility to its full functionality, we have a gap of right 700 million shillings of infrastructure and 2.3 billion for operational cost including equipment. We wish therefore to present a special request totalling 3 billion,” he said.
In the field of agro engineering machinery and other technologies such as the bio acaricides and comparing it with high levels of unemployment, the Deputy Director General stressed that NARO wishes to set up what he called a “technology incubation hub” to admit fresh university graduates to be part of the technologies such that each innovation ends up into an industry.
“We want to connect our research to the universities and by connecting it to the universities, we want to make sure that whichever technology we generate is able to merge into an industry,” Baguma said.
He noted that NARO is setting up an incubation hub in Mukono which will be a central hub to the entire country where all NARO technologies will be incubated.
“For that, we need support of at least 5 billion,” he said.
Meanwhile, NARO plans to set up a continental centre of excellence in aquaculture research to be the leader in aquaculture in the entire African continent and make Uganda have enough fish for both export and consumption.
“It is for that reason that we wish to set up a centre of excellence in aquaculture research and we shall require a total of 35 billion.”
On the other hand, the body is also looking to improve the road network within its institutes which need billions of shillings for rehabilitation.
NARO has centres across the country in Arua, Lira, Hoima, Fort Portal, Karamoja, Soroti, Wakiso, Kabale, Mbarara among others.
The centers have within them access roads which total to 90 kilometres, farm Roads which total to 346 kilometres which all need rehabilitation at a cost of 160.6 billion.
Among other developments exhibited at NARO, Nakyesasa institute include; semen production, anti-tick vaccine, preserving of hay and silage, nutrition laboratories, forage research, extraction of protein from elephant grass, aflatoxin mitigation, research and trapping of tsetse flies, development of test kit for African swine fever, cassava and potato research, research on foot and mouth disease among others.
In his response, the OWC Deputy Coordinator Lt Gen Charles Angina assured NARO on resource mobilization but challenged the Organization to yield positive results once funding is rendered.
“On the issue of resources, that can be mobilized. But if we give and we don’t see the results, then we get disarmed for advocating for people who don’t deliver. I will pray that you don’t let us down on that front,” he said.
“Now that NARO is focussing on developing vaccine for diseases that have affected our farmers especially for African swine fever and also for foot and mouth disease, if they achieve this, then they will be the champion not only for Africa but even beyond. African swine fever is a global problem but our researchers have gone a great distance in getting the solution. So, we need to support them by all means. Resource wise in terms of money, in terms of political support and also giving them what they think can make the environment in which they do their research attractive so that when they have a very good working environment, they can also be able to have returns of the investment,” Angina said.
He added, “I believe, going that direction, NARO will be the champion in applied science and centre of excellence in many aspects in terms of nutritious seeds and in terms of quality of animals because of the Jersey animals they are trying to multiply, and also embryo which will give a farmer the exact animal they want in terms of dairy and beef.”
OWC has often times been blamed for giving farmers unproductive inputs such as seeds that do not germinate and unhealthy cows among others.
Having observed the research done at NARO, Gen Angina said OWC will have researchers give OWC products that are assured of production.
“NARO could bridge this gap by ensuring that all animals that go to the farmers are the animals that the farmers have checked the sex of the animal. That will give assurance that the scientists are doing the great work,” he said.
Angina applauded NARO for establishing “NARO Holdings” which can produce feeds for both animals and fish.
“Once they do that one, then farmers will find something they can afford and of quality that can have returns of investment. Most of the products our farmers buy from the dealers are of poor quality and at times affect the investment. You find animals getting sick, older animals underperforming, and so is the poultry sector and the fish sector. I would pray that NARO takes this challenge.”
However, having observed consumable products exhibited without a label from Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), Angina challenged NARO to have them certified for the sake of people’s health.