NARO scores huge successes in agriculture research project

NARO research scientists also developed coffee value-added products, such as coffee facial and body scrub, ready for uptake by Uganda’s leading cosmetic producer, Movit Products Limited.

ENTEBBE— The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) has achieved remarkable success through a project aimed at promoting the use and commercialization of improved crop varieties and livestock technologies. The USAID-funded initiative, known as the Feed the Future Uganda Agriculture Research Activity, was designed to facilitate the release and commercialization of varieties developed in past and current research efforts. It also aimed to enhance crop and animal production and management technologies in response to emerging threats and market demands.

The project sought to consolidate previous gains in institutional and human capacity development, aligning research with market needs, and mobilizing domestic resources to replace development partner funding.

During a presentation to NARO’s Top Management, Project Coordinator Abdullah Kaggwa revealed that since 2020, the project had facilitated the release of eight new improved crop varieties. These included two bean varieties (NAROBEAN 6 and 7), two potato varieties (NAROPOT 5 and 6), two sweet potato varieties (NAROSPOT 6 and 7O), one provitamin A maize variety (NAROMAIZE 63PVA), and one pasture variety with high protein content (NAROLABLAB1). Additionally, eighteen candidate crop varieties were submitted to the National Variety Release Committee for approval.

NARO research scientists also developed coffee value-added products, such as coffee facial and body scrub, ready for uptake by Uganda’s leading cosmetic producer, Movit Products Limited. Ebenezer, a private company based in Lira, was incubated for the promotion and dissemination of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technologies.

In a positive development for banana farmers, Kaggwa announced that scientists had developed and continued to improve 12 value-added product prototypes. These included products from banana fiber, such as Banana green resistant starch, hair extensions, and sanitary pads. Other prototypes encompassed natural colorants and dyes, pre-cooked beans, composite flour (super kawomera), two specialty coffee powers, coffee-infused yogurt, coffee lotions and cream formulations, sorghum composite flour, and essential oils serving as low-risk pesticides.

Over the same project period, NARO developed five drudgery-reducing technologies, including a banana fiber extractor, two bean planters (heavy and light duty), and two animal-drawn planters.

Regarding the commercialization of improved technologies and products, NARO formalized engagement with 14 private sector entities, including UBL, NBL, Coca-Cola Company, SAWA, Texfad, Doctors Choice, Nature Fusions, Technology for Tomorrow, Nutreal, Movit, SOSPPA, Jesa Farm Dairy, Psalms, and Munyegera Agro-machinery, for joint product development. Additionally, eight partnerships were facilitated between NARO and various entities for technology dissemination, promotion, and commercialization.

In terms of variety licensing, the project streamlined agreements between NARO and 13 seed companies, resulting in the licensing of over 77 crop varieties. This effort generated over UGX 730,000,000 in commitment fees and royalties.

Under the same project, various facilities were constructed or refurbished to enable the development of market-responsive technologies. These included an aeroponic unit, coffee seed multiplication facilities, a maize cold room, installation of laboratory and semi-industrial incubation equipment, virtual conferencing facilities, and the training of NARO staff in various academic fields.

In his remarks, NARO Director General Dr. Yona Baguma commended his team for the significant success demonstrated by the varieties released under his stewardship. He announced plans to mainstream the commercialization of developed technologies to enhance revenue generation and proposed an annual technology and innovation expo to showcase products, services, and new developments in the agricultural research field.

Dr. Baguma also pledged to strengthen NARO Holdings Limited, the organization’s business arm, in terms of personnel and governance to effectively enhance and accelerate last-mile access to and utilization of proven NARO technologies and services on a commercial and sustainable basis. He expressed optimism about achieving more in the anticipated second phase of the project, with a focus on addressing identified gaps.

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