Welcome to Makerere University Regional Center for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI), an African Regional Centre of Excellence for Crop Improvement.
Through the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) II project, a center of excellence known as the Makerere University Regional Center for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) was approved and established. The MaRCCI is hosted at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and is funded as a loan/credit to Government of the Republic of Uganda. The overall objective is support the government to strengthen selected Institutions of Higher Education in Uganda to deliver quality post-graduate education and build collaborative research capacity in the regional priority areas.
The MaRCCI builds on two existing regional graduate programs, a PhD in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology (PBB) and an MSc in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems (PBSS), designed and initiated by Makerere University and diverse partners in 2008. Key elements of the curriculum of these programs include core competencies in basic and applied skills, supplemented by social research methods, management and marketing, as well as a focus on ethics and values. The content of these two programs was developed through a rigorous process under the auspices of the Regional Universities Forum for capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), a Network of 60-member universities in Africa. The process entailed input from key stakeholders from the private seed industry, the NARIs, and regional and international Universities.
Goals and Project Objectives
The overarching goal of the MaRCCI is to expand, strengthen, and transform the PhD (Plant Breeding and Biotechnology) program following the pattern of the highly successful MSc Plant Breeding and Seed Systems, and to increase coordination between the two programs. Thus, the Center will provide Eastern and Southern African (ESA) nations with industry-ready plant breeders who can use cutting-edge science to develop and deliver new food crop varieties. These breeders are urgently needed throughout this region in order to improve food security, nutrition, rural incomes, poverty reduction, and economic development.
MaRCCI will radically transform two regional graduate programs at Makerere University to implement a menu of novel courses and training approaches. The expected outputs of the MaRCCI by the end of the project period, supported by anticipated ACE II project funding of USD 6 million, are:
- Training of about 26 PhD’s (PBB) and 45 MSc’s (PBSS), of which about 60% will be Ugandans and 40% non-Ugandans from the regional partners.
- Revised curriculum for both MSc and PhD to effectively prepare graduates to independently lead cultivar development programs which produce farmer-preferred varieties that increase production and meet the needs of the entire commodity value chain.
- Social science and agri-business management and marketing skills more effectively incorporated into the curriculum.
- English language and scientific writing support provided.
- Faculty exchanges and external cooperators providing advanced courses at MaRCCI and cooperating universities.
- Improved capacity of teaching and support staff, resulting in improved training and timely submission of administrative reports
- Renewed national accreditation of the PhD and MSc programs, and regional/international accreditation sought.
- Short courses developed to serve advanced students and industry
- Student research projects providing breeding material and information critically needed to speed the development of improved varieties of major food crops for the region.
- A comprehensive breeding program (cowpea) for development of improved varieties and for “hands-on” training of students in “best practices”
- Publication of journal articles (at least 50) in peer-reviewed journals
- Improved capacity and functioning of ICT, molecular biology laboratory, bioinformatics training, video-conferencing, seed testing, living quarters, classroom and office space (at MUARIK, Makerere Agricultural Research Institute at Kabanyolo)
- Research and teaching cooperation agreements with commercial seed companies, international research institutes, and regional and international universities (NASECO, SeedCo, Universities of Zambia, Juba, Ghana, Iowa State, and North Carolina, RAB (Rwanda), INERA (DRC), and NARO (Uganda), AVRDC, CIMMYT, CIAT, CIP, ICRISAT, IITA.)
- A multi-stakeholder advisory committee formed and providing regular guidance for the ACE degree programs and other activities.
- Increased MaRCCI visibility, resource mobilization and recruitment of students and staff by effective program communications.
Dr. Richard Edema