Makerere University (Uganda) Climate Change and Global warming: Researchers and partners discuss Climate Smart Agriculture approaches

By Ritah Namisango

Global warming due to uncontrolled human activity, industrialization and rapid population growth as well as emission of greenhouse gases is a threat to both humans and animals.

Global warming is an aspect of climate change, referring to the long-term rise of the earth’s temperatures. It is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from human activities such as burning fossil fuels and farming.

To address the emerging danger of climate change and global warming that threatens the very existence of the human race, animals and the world in general, countries and international bodies have come up with strategies, measures and programmes aimed at mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers at Makerere University (Uganda) in partnership with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway), Maseno University (Kenya), and LUANAR and DARS (Malawi), and with funding from Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (Diku), are implementing a four-year collaborative research project titled, “Building Capacity for Innovation and Advancement of Climate Smart Agriculture in East and Southern Africa” (CICSA-E&SA).

This is a multi-disciplinary project bringing on board experts in climate change, livestock, animal science and agriculture. In Uganda, Dr. Dorothy Nampanzira, a researcher at Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) is the Principal Investigator. One of the objectives of the project is to develop a platform that includes key stakeholders who are engaged and interested in activities and initiatives that promote Climate Smart Approach practices and technologies to share experiences and lessons to further the resilience of farmers and promote activities that limit greenhouse gas emissions and receive outreach for adopting new, proven Climate Smart Agriculture technologies.

Why Climate Smart Agriculture?

Climate change and global warming are a threat to the agricultural sector, which is the source of food and income for developing countries in Africa, Uganda being one of them. According to the Uganda Bureau of Standards (UBOS) about 70% of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture. So, climate change and global warming threaten the very existence of livelihoods in Uganda, which calls for adoption of climate smart agriculture approaches, strategies, measures and practices.

On Tuesday 6th December 2022, researchers, scientists and experts in livestock feeding and nutrition, animal science, agriculture, climate change, education and capacity building convened at CoVAB. The stakeholders’ meeting was held under the theme: Livestock feeding and nutrition as Climate Smart Agriculture option: Current status and future strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production systems in Uganda.

Opening the stakeholders’ workshop, Associate Professor Lawrence Mugisha, the Head, Department of Livestock and Industrial Resources, CoVAB, welcomed the partners to Makerere University.  Highlighting that climate change is a cross cutting issue, he was happy to note that this multi-disciplinary project brings on board staff and experts from other Colleges at Makerere University namely; the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the College of Education and External Studies (CEES), and international partners from Universities in East and Southern Africa as well as Norway.

Representing Associate Professor Robert Tweyongyere, the Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resources, CoVAB, Associate Professor Mugisha shared that the Government of Uganda was committed to mitigating climate change. He pointed out that Makerere University’s strategic approaches through this collaborative project that focuses on climate smart agriculture would further enhance Government efforts.

Associate Professor Mugisha reiterated the appeal from the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero to researchers at Makerere University. “On several occasions, Hon. Monica Musenero has encouraged us to conduct research that will solve the problems that Uganda is facing. The impacts and consequences of climate change are with us. We need researchers and experts to address the problem.  I am therefore glad that this collaborative project focuses on coming up with innovations in climate smart agriculture.”

He advised the research project team to widen the stakeholder engagements, write policy briefs, and translate research into conventional and popular formats for public consumption and usage.

Dr. Vincent Muwanika then invited the respective researchers, scientists, experts and partners to participate in round table discussions with key stakeholders in climate change, agriculture, animal science and capacity building.

From the presentations, participants observed that a number of livestock climate smart agriculture initiatives were being undertaken in Uganda.  Some of these include:

  • Interventions addressing livestock feed quantities in order to produce nutritious feeds for livestock throughout the year.
  • Feed quality improvement innovations.
  • Forage conservation innovations and technologies aimed at providing enough nutritious feeds for livestock during times of scarcity especially as a result of the long dry spells.
  • Promotion of drought tolerant multipurpose tree species.
  • Promotion of livestock and poultry breeds that are better performing and tolerant high temperatures.
  • Innovations for improved grazing management especially in rangelands.
  • Water conservation and harvesting technologies that store enough water for both livestock production and household use.

Based on the informative discussions and interactive engagements, the participants resolved to establish a platform that includes key stakeholders who are engaged and interested in activities and initiatives that promote Climate Smart Agriculture practices and technologies. The platform will act as a mechanism to share experiences and lessons to further the resilience of farmers and promote activities that limit greenhouse gas emissions.