Makerere University Introduces Cow pea,Sorghum breeding Program

Makerere University’s Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) has introduced two breeding programmes on cow pea and sorghum to aid in research and also address the issue of nutritional security as well as increasing income for farmers.
The project  has been established on a seven(7) acres plot at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) where most students admitted on the cowpea breeding programme are based.
The Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Green Cap & Tie) listens to the Principal CAES-Prof. Bernard Bashaasha (touching sorghum head) during a tour of one of the demonstration plots under MaRCCI at MUARIK, Makerere University, Wakiso Uganda. MaRCCI is undertaking research on disease, drought and other tolerance on cowpea and sorghum
The sorghum project: Mak webportal

Over 360  cowpea species including “a Minicore”, 250 Multi-parent Advanced Generation InterCross (MAGIC) and 250 Ugandan collections and crosses are being evaluated on the site.

The cowpea project is addressing the issues of cowpea pests and diseases like thrips and scab, fusarium virus, cerospora, leafspot, bacterial blight, pod borer, pod sucking bugs and others.

According to Dr. Dramatri Onziga, the breeding program is focusing mainly on cowpea and sorghum because they are drought-tolerant semi-arid crops and can be bred from Northern Uganda and other areas prone to drought.

“We are also filling a gap in the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS). We are trying to complement and be part of NARS to make it more collaborative,” he said.

 

The Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Green Cap & Tie) examines a sample of cowpeas during a tour of one of the demonstration plots under MaRCCI at MUARIK
Prof. Barnabus Nawangwe touring the project with other officials: Photo from Mak webportal

Another research and demonstration field on Sorghum has been established on 5 acres of land at MUARIK where the MAGIC population of sorghum obtained from Perdue University USA and the cold-tolerant populations are under evaluation.

“The idea is that we want to see if sorghum adopted to cold can be grown in the cold areas of Uganda like Kisoro, Mt. Elgon area etc. So we are testing lines that can tolerate cold and give high yields. The programme is also testing the potential of hybrids which are popular in maize, targeting the beer industry” explained Dr. Onziga.

 

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