On 24th May 2018, over 40 Directors of the USAID Feed the Future Innovation labs visited the Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI).

MaRCCI Centre Director Dr. Richard Edema interacts with one of the USAID directors

The team had visited Makerere University and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences the previous day.

The visit to Makerere University and MaRCCI was part of the activities of the five day days visit (21st-25th May 2018) to Makerere University to discuss and assess the progress of the various projects the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Labs is implementing in the various parts of the world.

Dr. Edema gave a brief history and success about Makerere University’s training in Plant Breeding and the inception of the Makerere University Regional Centre in Crop improvement (MaRCCI) that has been in existence for two years.

He recognized the support provided by the USAID Feed the Future especially the Cowpea Innovation Lab for enhancing the capacity at the centre.

In his presentation, the Deputy Centre Director, Prof. Paul Gibson highlighted the pontential areas of cooperation between MaRCCI and the USAID Feed the Future projects.

These include providing graduate training in plant breeding and other projects, improving teaching and learning quality, curriculum development and developing state of the art breeding programmes as models for national programmes.

“The other potential areas of cooperation according to Prof. Gibson include strengthening varietal development efforts in cooperation with NARS, cooperating on targeted research needs and student research placements in regional and US advanced research institutes.

Other areas of cooperation would be development and validation of molecular markers for routine use in trait transfer, seed identity and purity testing and in the delivery of selected short courses and development of training materials”, Said Prof. Gibson.

After the discussion session, the team toured the Biotechnology laboratory where characterization of plants, marker assisted selection, pathogen identification and gene multiplication are done.

On the visit to the cowpea research and demonstration site

The team also visited the cowpea research and demonstration field under MaRCCI Programme where most students on cowpea are entrenched. The program is addressing issues of cowpea pests and diseases like thrips and scab, fusarium virus, cerospora, leafspot, bacterial blight, pod borer , pod sucking bugs and others.

A global collection of 360 different cowpea lines refered to as “a Minicore” and the Multi parent Advanced Generation Intercross (MAGIC) population of 260 cowpea traits and 250 Ugandan collection and crosses are being evaluatedon this site.

Other cowpea experiments are being conducted in Serere, Arua, Ngetta. Another site of 8 acres of cow pea is at Kyentume still at Kabanyolo.

Another research and demonstration field is on Sorghum where the MAGIC population of sorghum obtained from Perdue University USA and the cold-tolerance populations are under evaluation.

In addition, the program is testing pontential sorghum hybrids for the commercial beer production for industries and other high yielding sorghum lines that can tolerate cold in mountainous areas like Kisoro and Elgon.

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