BY ALEX TAREMWA
The departments of Development Studies, and Agriculture and Biological Sciences have partnered to equip students with basic practical skills in modern agriculture and community mobilisation.
The purpose is to increase household income and create employment in their communities.
During the inaugural workshop held on July 19, in the Ham Mukasa Library, Dr Uzziah Maate, the head of department, Development Studies, emphasised the need for students to utilise the available university resources to equip their communities with skills in farming, bearing in mind that agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy.
“The Department of Agriculture has the practical instructions that we in Development Studies need. We also have the mobilisation and sensitisation skills that they need, hence the partnership to exchange knowledge so that our students can use such skills to create jobs and impact their communities positively,” Maate said.
He added that the two departments will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) requesting the Church of Uganda, specifically the Diocese of Mukono, to help identify individual families and communities where such skills will be put into practice.
One of the facilitators, Dr Livingstone Mutyaba, a lecturer in the agriculture department, tipped students on the benefits of agro-forestry, a land management system that deliberately integrates trees/shrubs with crops and/or livestock as a bio-technology method of conserving our environment.
“We need to find a solution to the destruction of Uganda’s forest cover which has gone from 6,815 square km in 1990 to 1,312 square km in 2010, especially in light of the increasing population pressure,” Mutyaba said.
Besides the population explosion, Mutyaba notes that the loss of bio-diversity, global warming, acidic rain as a
result of air pollution, reduced water supply and encroaching desertification, rising energy consumption, poverty and income inequalities – all pose a threat to societal well-being if measures are not taken to reverse the trend.
“It should be noted that at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. Focusing on modern agriculture would be one way of contributing towards achieving the SDGs,” Mutyaba concluded.
Rev Stanley Wareeba, the team leader for Research on Homesite Development, said that the partnership would help create employment for students before and after they graduate to avoid becoming a national burden.
Students were also trained in modern piggery production, and improved housing systems.