Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute


Mbarara ZARDI is one of the 16 Public Agricultural Research Institutes (PARIs) under the policy guidance of the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO). Specifically, it is one the nine Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institutes (ZARDIs). It is responsible for identifying constraints, developing and disseminating appropriate agricultural technologies in the South Western Agro-ecological Zone (SWAEZ).


A competitive SWAEZ supported by a dynamic agricultural research innovation system.


To innovate for sustainable agricultural transformation for SWAEZ.


Mbarara ZARDI is responsible for conducting adaptive and applied research in livestock, crops, agro-forestry and aquaculture of importance to the SWAEZ.


To increase total factor productivity and access to agricultural research products and services for agro-industrialization and inclusive growth in SWAEZ.

Members of the MBAZARDI Advisory Committee visit the Institute


Mbarara ZARDI started as a Livestock Breeding Centre for Western Uganda, established in 1926 as a Stock Farm. In 1996 the Stock Farm was handed over to NARO by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries and has since become a fully-fledged agricultural research institute.


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  • The research station is located out of Mbarara City center, 6 km along Mbarara – Kasese Road.
  • Mbarara ZARDI, serves 17 districts in the South Western and part of Central Region. The districts include: Buhweju, Bushenyi, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kazo, Kiruhura, Kyotera, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Mbarara City, Mitooma, Ntungamo, Rubirizi, Sembabule, Sheema, Rakai and Rwampara.

Operational Areas

Mbarara city, Mbarara District, Sheema, Bushenyi, Mitooma, Rubiriizi, Buhweju, Ibanda, Kazo, Kiruhura, Lyantonde, Sembabule, Kyotera, Rakai, Isingiro, Rwampara, Ntungamo.


Livestock feed production, maize hulling, seed sorting, school trainings, tree seedlings for assorted fruits and coffee, foundation seed for beans and soybean, conference hall hire.

Other Services

School Visits, Feeds Mixing at the Feed Mill, Artificial Insemination, Grain Milling, Fruit and Agroforestry Tree Seedlings, Pasture grasses and legumes, Hall hire for events and trainings, Pathology and Hematology laboratory services.


The Institute is headed by Dr. Halid Kirunda as the Director of Research.

He is supported by an Advisory Committee whose members are;

Prof. Johnson Nkuuhe – Chairperson

Prof. Dennis Mpairwe

Prof. Grace Kagoro

Rev. Sandra Mwebaze

Dr. Halid Kirunda - Director of Research of MBAZARDI




Mbarara ZARDI is developing climate-smart agricultural technologies for improved productivity and support sustainable agro-industrialisation in Uganda.

Members of the NARO Governing Council monitoring the bean seed multiplication project at MBAZARDI

Research Programs/Activities

Crop and Natural Resources Research Program

Animal Resources Research Program

Technology Promotion and Outreach Research Program

Projects at MBAZARDI


Development of probiotic additive for improved cattle nutrition

Mbarara ZARDI is developing probiotic inoculants as feed additives for improved nutrition and health of dairy cattle in Uganda. Animals with higher genetic potential currently being adopted in the zone require a well-balanced diet of high nutritional value, with production of forages in sufficient quantity and quality throughout the year. This is however not commonly achievable. Use of additives such as probiotic (microbial) inoculants, that can breakdown the fibre to enhance digestibility and nutrient utilization, is critical in improving the use of silage, hay and forages in feeding of dairy cattle.

Starter Culture for milk products

Mbarara ZARDI is focusing on isolating and commercialising starter cultures for yoghurt and ghee. Currently the country is depending on imported and the traditional non-standardized starter cultures. The Ankole Longhorn-derived starter cultures being developed by the institute improve food-safety, ease product standardisation and support the alleviation of ulcers and diarrhoea among yoghurt consumers and improve ghee processing productivity by 30%.

Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex

Porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC) is an economically important health condition that causes abortions and piglet mortality. This lowers the reproductive performance of a herd leading to economic losses. Mbarara ZARDI is working towards reducing the impact of PRDC in Uganda’s piggery sector through development of in-feed probiotics to modulate the pig’s immune defenses against PRDC-associated pathogens. Based on PRDC pathogens collected from the Albertine Rift region of Uganda and working on estimating their associated economic impacts, the institute plan to develop an immune modulating in-feed probiotic to control PRDC in pig farms.

Adopting Jersey cattle as an alternative dairy breed

The Jersey is considered a much more feed efficient breed than the commonly farmed Holstein Friesian. The Jersey also has a higher protein and butterfat content in its milk and is well adaptable to the hot and humid weather of South Western Uganda and survives much better on low amounts of pastures.


Banana Value Addition

Banana is a major food security and income generating crop grown by 65.1% of the households in the SWAEZ. However, challenges of low nutritional values, and postharvest losses of highland cooking banana are common due to climate change. Mbarara ZARDI is developing banana products (composite flours and wine) to minimize food and nutrition insecurity, postharvest losses and unstable household incomes. The composite flours are being developed from the local cooking varieties while wine is developed from improved banana varieties.

Strengthening Coffee Productivity and Value Addition

Coffee is a major cash crop in South Western Uganda grown by 38% of the households. This project focuses on addressing challenges affecting coffee productivity including pests and diseases, low soil moisture and fertility and poor management practices through developing zonal specific agronomic technologies. The project is also working on increasing local utilization and profitability through developing coffee based skin care products.

Technology Promotion and Outreach

Support for Local Seed businesses in Quality Declared Seed Production

This project aims at supporting the Multi Stakeholder Innovation Platforms around seed production through trainings in agronomy, quality control, post-harvest handling, group management and marketing.

Capacity building and Trainings

Every calendar year, Mbarara ZARDI receives up to two hundred schools with O and A level students, tertiary institution, farmer groups and extension workers for research, internship and on farm training in livestock & crop husbandry, aquaculture and agriculture mechanization. This is one of the major ways Mbarara ZARDI technologies are promoted in the zone.

Technology dissemination and Other Services

Planting materials of improved fruit trees, coffee, banana, cassava, beans, soybean and livestock pastures. Livestock feed production, grain milling, seed sorting, Holstein Friesian bulls, Mubende and Boer goats, Cambrough piglets and laboratory services.

Crops Program team harvesting cassava from the mother garden at MbaZARDI

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Volunteers: Interested persons are advised to write and deliver applications to Bulindi on weekdays.

Submit your application to the office of Director of Research, MbaZARDI.

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