Pursuing Bachelors of Agricultural engineering, the students have decided to make a difference and make the nation’s farming thrive again.
The innovations are intended to address problems faced by most farmers in the country like lack of enough larbour.
Gerald Bagonza, the mastermind of the Cocoa Grinding Machine said it will help in value addition of the seemingly downplayed crop, cococa in Uganda.
He added that most of the Cocoa produced in Uganda is exported in raw form, yet the earnings would triple if intermediate Cocoa products are exported.
How the Cocoa grinding Machine works
It only requires a farmer to harvest Cocoa pods, split them and then extract seeds with the pulp.
Thereafter, fresh cocoa is fermented and then dried before packaging it for export.
The machine is capable of grinding roasted dehulled Cocoa to a reduced size that can be easily ground further for extraction of Cocoa liquor, from which many products can be made such as cocoa butter, chocolate and powder, which can earn farmers an extra income.
Another great machine was innovated by Fortunate Kemigyisha, a finalist Agricultural Engineer. The machine, an Air Filter Cleaning Unit, will be helpful to not only farmers but also mechanics who are affected by dust from filters.
Kemigyisha explains that she adopted the idea when she had gone for internship at Kakira Sugar Works, where she was assigned a task of cleaning air filters and in the process, she got severe flue which affected her life.
After internship, she cooked up the idea and presented it to her professor, who gave her green lights.
She added that the machine has no side effects to the user in anyway, since everything is done from inside.
The air filter is put inside the machine, and the cleaned dust is collected from the collector which is machine inbuilt, and therefore dust is not exposed to air inhaled by people around, which keeps user from airborne diseases such as flue.
Sandrah Ahereza also came up with a Manual Milking Machine which, as she explained, is aimed at reducing on manual labour spent milking a cow.
What inspired Ahereza’s innovation is the fact that she is from Mitooma district where the main economic activity is cattle keeping.
As a child, she could wake up early every morning to milk the cow, an activity she considers so tiresome when done manually.
She added that when she came to Makerere on an Agricultural Engineering program, she got a chance to see an electric milking machine which gave her an idea of coming up with a manual one, that can be used anywhere by anyone since it does not require electricity.
The machine also improves on milk health, since it has its own can where milk is tapped from teats on the cow’s udder preventing it from germs.
After conducting a survey amongst cattle keepers in Kyankwanzi district, Ahereza ius very certain that her machine can now compete at the global market since it is user friendly.
The students’ innovations not only impact on farmers’ works, but also change the lives of students, of whom many count their stay at Makerere University a success, as agricultural engineering students.
Enock Muwanguzi, former president Makerere University Agricultural and Bio-Systems Engineering Students Association (MUABESA) said his shoe brush maker machine has made him move places.
Muwanguzi established a company known as Ugabrush located in Bweyogerere, which manufactures brushes from animal fur.
He is now a happy man after presenting his business in the United Social Venture, as he explains together with a business partner, Paul Soddo in the video below.
He added that students should stop chasing for limited jobs in Uganda, yet many of them have the capacity to start their own and even employ others.
Students’ innovated machines are part of their final year projects, which earn them marks.
Nelson Muhwezi, a 4th year student of Agricultural Engineering said one must identify something that has never been innovated in the field of agriculture, after noticing gaps to be bridged in the sector and then provide a solution to the prevailing problem, which is addressed in the engineering perspective.
The machines are later fabricated from Tonnet Agro Engineering Company located in Gayaza, Kawempe Division-Kampala where students are helped in modeling the machines, and later taken back to the college store to wait for exhibition where the innovators get an opportunity to get funding.
However, some of them are given agricultural practitioners for use, and many agriculturalists are testifying that they have worked have worked for them.
Samuel Ssematimba, a 10 year experienced poultry farmer owning a company called Birungi Best Quality Feeds Limited in Bujuuko-Kireka, Wakiso District says he doesn’t regret for partnering with Makerere University Engineering Students and Tonnet Agro Engineering Company, since he got the best Feeds Mixing Machine after struggling with troublesome machines, as he shares his experience in the video below.
Ssematimba adds that the machine saves time and brings in more customers, since it is faster compared to the ones he tried before, as the video below shows.
Ssematimba asks students to continue innovating and bridge more gaps in the agricultural sector, as he explains in the video below.
During a phone interview with Dennis Kabugo, a farmer in Kyanja, Wakiso, he showed gratitude after using two of the students machines; pasteurizer for milk safety and a fruit pulper Machine for processing fruits.
However, Agricultural Engineering students say there is still a lot to be done to mechanize Uganda’s agriculture, which forces them to come up with more innovative ideas, as some of them explain in the video below.
However the success is without challenges. There are problems associated with executing engineering works such as lack of enough funds, reading a lot of literature as the President for College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Ponsiano Byansi explains in the video below.
Though students face challenges of inadequate funding, many are hopeful after meeting the president in state house where he promised funding many of their projects after September 25, 2019 during the Annual Agricultural Exhibition at Makerere University Freedom Square, which included Ground nut sheller, Feed mixer, Pedalled and hand driven cassava chipper, Double ox-planter, Multiple Ox-planter, Manual milking machine, Cocoa grinder, Air filter Cleaning Unit, Fruit pulper, Multiple briquette making machine, Rice planter, Soya milk mixing machine, all aimed at changing the face of Agriculture in Uganda through mechanization.