Makerere university takes climate change project to Mayuge

Climate change adaptation in Africa is needed
Climate change adaptation in Africa is needed

Prof. John Tabuti research dissemination workshop on tree planting- Mayuge District

Uganda like other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is already severely and disproportionately affected by climate change and vulnerable to future variability, and yet has the least capacity to respond.

With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Makerere University has been provided with a grant to develop the country and regional capacity to stem the challenge posed by climate change through the project titled;

“Strengthening East African Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation Capacity through Training, Research and Policy Interventions”.

This initiative is developing capacity to address critical issues of climate change adaptation research, policy development and implementation in East Africa.

In addition, it is helping to create a regional climate change community of practice with East Africa-focused collaborators.

The current major thrust being undertaken by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere university include;

  • Curriculum review and reform to address climate change
  • Creation of a national think-tank to guide policy,research and reform processes in the University and country
  •   Marshaling national and regional human resources via a regional community of practice and Critical research on climate change adaptation.

Muyuge scenery as pictured from the Local government headquarters. Farmers plant multipurpose trees mostly edible species for income and food.

Pine trees growing alongside the road to the local government headquarters and one of the tree planting methods being promoted on edges, roads and plantations.

It is within this background that Makerere’s Ethno botanist from the department of Environmental Management, Prof. John Stephen Tabuti set out to interact with farmers in Mayuge district from three randomly selected villages of Iwuuba, Bukomya and Nabukone of Bunya County between July and September 2012 to determine which plants farmers valued, the management practices and to establish challenges farmers faced in tree cultivation.

Presenting the study findings to about 100 participants at Mayuge district local government council headquarters on 17th June 2013, Prof. Tabuti told farmers that the destruction of trees releases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere thus destroying the ozone layer.

“One option to mitigate impacts of climate change is to plant trees because trees sequester significant amounts of carbon , the green house gas with the most impact on climate change and this is the reason why the University is collaborating with farmers to plant trees.” the professor explained.

Mayuge farmers to benefit from study findings
Prof. Tabuti informed farmers that the information collected will guide future actions of which trees will be selected for planting in the district and other human inhabited parts of the country.

He also reported that eleven multipurpose trees valued by farmers were documented because they provide important products that included edible fruits, wood for construction and firewood while some species were sold in the area and had potential for income generation.

The eleven preferred tree species were;  Maesopsis eminii (Musizi), Pinus spp (Pine), Mangifera indica (Muyembe), Artocarpus heterophyllus (Fene) and Persea american (Avocado) among others.

“Farmers in Mayuge are interested and actively involved in tree planting. Trees were propagated from seedlings, wildings and cuttings in farmers owned enterprises or from commercial nursery gardens and maintained in crop
fields, home gardens of the compound.

However, key challenges identified in the study were tree pests, drought, land scarcity and planting materials among others,” he said

The Assist. LCV Chairperson (Mayuge Distruct), Lydia Njirumugabo thanked Makerere University for choosing Mayuge and called upon residents to utilize the knowledge acquired to encourage their children to plant trees.

“We are so grateful for piloting the study in Mayuge and I want to encourage you farmers to be role models so that others can emulate from you”, Njirumugabo advised on behalf of the LCV Omar Bongo Dactoor Muwaya.

The Lead researcher, Climate Change Project who is also Ag. Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental
Sciences, Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa said the project was aimed at developing resilience to climate change.

“Scientist say, Climate change is caused by too much carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere and therefore we thought of tree planting to avert the situation and as the Principal Investigator, I brought an ethno botanist to
look at which trees can avert carbon dioxide and bring income for farmers”, Prof. Kyamanywa said.

Prof. Kyamanywa added that the college is doing research in different aspects of agriculture such as breeding drought and disease resistant and early maturing crop varieties and pasture for livestock.

Prof. Kyamanywa thanked farmers for participating in the study and advised them to work together with the college to address climate change.

“We are researching to survive and the college has the capacity to deal with climate change because it is a one – stop centre for agricultural and environmental issues. You notice that this whole season people planted maize
but rain disappeared at the time of pollination.” Prof. Kyamanywa appealed.

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