The Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe on 16th July 2019 opened the ground marking the start of the construction of the Office block and Lecture theatres for the Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) under the Eastern & Southern Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACEII) project.
The facility will cost two billion four hundred eighty million nine hundred ninety seven thousand seven hundred forty three shillings ( UGX 2,480,997,743).
Prof. Nawangwe also unveiled the new generator worth shs. 73 million procured by the same project at Makerere University Agricultural Research institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK).
The key components of the building include staff offices and lecturer rooms, reception, coffee room, a video conference room, supply storage and server room among others.
These facilities are part of the $ 6 million grant for MaRCCI which provides for additional scientific and staff support, enhancement of facilities and equipment aimed at modernizing and expanding the teaching, research, and service activities of MaRCCI.
Makerere University is among the beneficiaries of the World Bank Loan extended to the Government of Uganda under the ACE II Project aimed at promoting regional specialization among participating universities within areas that address particular common development challenges, and strengthening the capacities of these universities to deliver high quality training and applied research.
Presiding over the ground breaking ceremony, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe described the project milestones as important to the nation and the region. He reminded Makerere university staff of the huge responsibility and role they have to play.
“The country and government has invested very heavily in Makerere because they believe we are the ones to emanicipate the rest from poverty and as a university we can’t afford to waste time on non-issues.
I thank Dr. Richard Edema and colleagues for the foresight. We are intending to be a research and graduate led international university and projects like this of MaRCCI is the way to go” , Prof. Nawangwe stated.
The Vice Chancellor commended CAES for maintaining a high standard in research saying, the college was doing well at Makerere because it is the second most research intensive college.
As Agricultural College, Prof. Nawangwe challenged the CAES to aim at being leaders in research on grounds that the country’s population is ever increasing and many people going hungry despite the good soils and climate.
“As CAES you have a big responsibility for the region and Africa. This MARCCI achievement is a good example to show that if we put our hands together, we can cause a change.
We have got this opportunity. The World Bank is supporting us but there is a reason why they are investing in Agriculture and research projects in Africa.
80% of Uganda’s population still live in the rural and if you do the right things ,you can improve their livelihoods . It is our responsibility to ensure that the 2050 – 100-million-mark population is fed”, The VC implored.
Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Designers, Engineers and Contractors for the valuable cooperation and the CAES leadership for creating a conducive atmosphere for MaRCCI to operate calling upon more staff to engage in research.
Prof. Nawangwe expressed appreciation to the development partners especially the World Bank for the support extended to Uganda and Makerere University in particular.
He also acknowledged active support of Government in terms of the encouragement, support and the generous financial contributions given to the university.
The Vice Chancellor also underscored the role played by media in informing the public and publicizing educational activities. He however advised Ugandan media to desist from focusing on mistakes.
“Understand that Makerere is your institution, the best in Uganda and the region. Protect it. Why look at mistakes and negatives to break it?. We are servants and we want to leave a good institution behind that every Ugandan is proud of. Realise that this is your asset”, The VC advised.
The Principal CAES Prof Bernard Bashaasha thanked the Vice Chancellor for being supportive and for taking off his valuable time to grace the occasion.
Prof. Bashaasha described MaRCCI as a baby to Makerere and CAES that is moving the university forward in training, research, publications, innovations and outreach.
“MaRCCI contributes to internationalization (with 40% of the student enrolled being foreigners) and visibility of the university. They have enhanced the college infrastructure.
MaRCCI is doing a good job in boosting the teaching capacity and infrastructure”. Prof. Bashaasha reported.
The Ag. Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences Dr. Sentumba Bulasio Mukasa said out of the 14 graduate programmes offered in the school, two regional programs (MSc Plant Breeding and Seed Systems and PhD Plant Breeding and Biotechnology) are associated with MaRCCI.
Dr. Mukasa expressed happiness that the centre has finally got a home saying, it has been a long journey.
The Centre Director Dr. Richard Edema thanked the university Management for the guidance and support throughout the years.
He reported that the centre has recorded a number of achievement by investing in infrastructure, training and research capacity.
From a small Girls’ house to a Rhizobia laboratory, Dr. Edema said the center was proud to have a state – of -the -art office finally.
“We are adding and supporting CAES towards its goal to move the college here at Kabanyolo and focusing on graduate teaching but structures have been a problem.
Here, we are to put 1000 square meter of the office space with conference rooms, canteen and other facilities so that life is better.
We want to ensure that our students study and focus on addressing the food security issue and we need people in intelligence”, Dr. Edema said.
The Centre Director also added that the Centre is to tap in to the satellite technology by using one off the rooms in the new facility for video conferencing so that lectures or meetings can be conducted and relayed from the main campus to MUARIK without physical movements.
The Ag. Director MUARIK Dr. Alice Turinawe said, the institute was excited to host MaRCCI, one of the biggest centres in the university.
“MaRCCI is the largest and most visible centre and we are happy taking part in its activities and sharing leaps that it is taking. I hope we are giving the best environment for its operation”, Dr. Turinawe said.
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