National Crop Resources Research Institute
Kachwekano was established by the British in 1937 for experimentation and demonstration of crops, pastures and livestock of temperate origin.
In 1949, Kachwekano turned into a District Farm Institute (DFI). One of the functions of the DFI was to offer practical courses in agriculture; This equiped local chiefs with skills to disseminate technologies that increased agricultural productivity.
In 1952, the DFI started popularizing local goats and sheep as a source of income for small holder farmers.
In 1961, exotic cattle breeds were introduced and up to now the region has one of the best exotic breeds in Uganda.
NaCRRI also hosts the Uganda Biosciences Information Center, Cassava Regional Centre of Excellence, National Invasive Species Co-ordination Unit and the Regional Rice Research and Training Center.
Crop technologies transforming livelihoods and fostering socio-economic development.
To generate, promote and disseminate appropriate crop technologies, knowledge and information.
To generate, develop and disseminate appropriate crop technologies, methods and knowledge on food and cash crops of national importance.
Namulonge is located within the bimodal rainfall region. It is at 00 32” N of the Equator and 320 37” E. It is 27 km North of Kampala at an elevation of 1150 meters above sea level. It has a tropical wet and mild dry climate with slightly humid conditions (average 65%). The vegetation is wooded savannah with tall trees and tall grasses dominated by (Pennisetum purpureum and Parnicum maximum). This location is ideal for testing annual crops as the two rainy seasons of approximately the same length (3 months each) offer the chance to carry out trials twice a year.
General functions of NaCRRI
- We conduct agricultural research of strategic importance for knowledge generation and development.
- Establishment and management of human, physical and financial resources of the Institute.
- Provision of technical back-stopping and capacity building to Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the ZARDIs, and other agencies dealing in agricultural research.
- Developing and managing agricultural research information system and ensuring collaboration of stakeholders.
- Planning, monitoring and evaluating all research programmes undertaken by the institute to ensure conformity with the national research strategy.
- Ensuring quality of technologies developed, multiplied and disseminated through the uptake path ways.
- Generation of periodic reports on findings of the agricultural research to the Council and other stakeholders.
- Building and sustaining linkages and partnerships with local regional and international research bodies.
- Participating in problem identification and prioritization of research demand for the national research agenda.
We conduct agricultural research of strategic importance for knowledge generation and development.
Establishment and management of human, physical and financial resources of the institute.
Provision of technical back-stoppinng and capacity buuilding to Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the ZARDIs, and other agencies dealing in agricultural research.
Institute Programmes /Activities
Research activities in the Institute are carried out under mandated commodity programs and Units. Presently the priority crops according to the mandate are Legumes i.e. beans and soybean, Root Crops i.e. cassava and sweet potato, cereals i.e. maize and rice, Horticulture and Oil palm. All the programmes have multidisciplinary teams. The institute emphasizes participatory research which involves farmers (and other clients) at all levels of technology generation and development.
Priority crops include:
Legumes, root crops, Cereals ,Horticulture and Oil Palm
Products and Services
- Foundation seed
- Expert consultancy services
- Hi-tech laboratory services
- Training and Internship
- Conference & Accommodation facilities
- Recreation service (e.g. Golf course)
- Motor workshop services
Key achievements or milestones
The institute is now a major hub for excellence in agricultural research and innovation, generating technologies and management practices that are stimulating socio-economic transformation by: curbing food and nutrition insecurity; promoting agro-industrialization and commodity exports ; galvanizing import substitution and spurring private sector investment along the agricultural value chains. The following are key achievements and innovations:
In the last decade, NaCRRI developed, released and registered 90 crop varieties that are commercially produced in the country (32 maize, 24 beans, 9 rice, 9 cassava, 8 sweet potato, 5 mango and 3 citrus). Uptake and production of these crop varieties has increased productivity and exports in the country as follows:
Rice production increased at an average annual rate of 7.33%. This growth is mainly attributed to promotion and adoption of improved rice varieties and favorable policy environment. In the last decade, cultivation of the 9 superior varieties has boosted rice productivity from the previous national average yield of 1 ton/acre to 3-4 tons/acre, resulting in increased rice production from 110,000 metric tons of milled rice in 2008 to 390,000 metric tons per annum in 2020. Subsequently, rice importation reduced from 90,000 metric tons to less than 50,000 metric tons, saving the country over UGX 100 billion. Additionally, four varieties are due for release including a new variety, code-named MET 12 and dubbed ‘new basmati’ for its aromatic properties that make it similar to the globally popular basmati rice. Key private sector players are keen to replace imported rice in their cuisines with this variety. The new variety is thus set to be a game changer, facilitating import substitution and further spurring the country towards self-sufficiency in rice.
Research led by NaCRRI has contributed significantly to addressing nutrient deficiencies in Uganda’s population by developing and disseminating beans enriched with Zinc and Iron, vitamin-A-rich sweet potato, and pipeline products of vitamin-A enriched maize and cassava, zinc-rich maize and anthocyanin-rich sweet potato. For example, 7 bean varieties release are rich in micronutrients of iron (>70 ppm) and zinc (>35ppm). Through these bio-fortification efforts, research contributes to providing affordable nutritious foods to curb nutrient deficiency related diseases in children and pregnant mothers and alleviating the country’s health burden attributed to malnutrition. Bio-fortication of major staple food crops could save the country from the health burden caused by malnutrition, mainly micronutrient deficiency (hidden hunger) which has resulted into 29% of children below 5 years stunted, 11% underweight and 3.4% wasted. Uganda is estimated to lose US $899 (5.6% GDP) million annually due to the effects of malnutrition and poor health among the workforce.
There has been a rapid response by development and deployment of integrated management options for pest and disease out breaks that would otherwise have caused billions in crop losses. Examples of these pests and disease include the maize lethal necrosis (MLN), cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and fall armyworm (FAW). Research interventions reduced incidence of CBSD to 20.4% in 2017 from 27.3% in 2011 and Cassava mosaic disease (CMD) occurrence controlled below 20%. NaCRRI supported pest and disease surveillance, farmer and extension training, and validation and recommendation of appropriate chemicals to manage these pests and diseases.
Adoption of improved maize varieties is estimated at > 95% (SPIA, 2020). Cultivation of improved varieties from research has increased production from 2.8 million MT in 2014 to 5 million MT in 2020 while productivity increased from 2.5 MT to 3.7 MT per hectare annually. As a result of increased production, maize export volume increased by 6% from 750,000 MT in 2016 to 278,693 MT in 2019 while the value of exports has increased by 12% from US$ 84.99 million in 2016 to US$ 95.48 million in 2019 (MAAIF, 2019). There is increasing research with product pipelines for specialized maize such as sweet corn, popcorn and waxy maize for industrial purposes.
Development and release of improved 2 improved and early maturing, consumer and market preferred bean varieties has resulted into increased productivity from 0.7 MT/ha (2012) to 1.3 Mt/ha in 2019 and increased production from 444,000 MT in 2006 to over 1,000,000 MT in 2020. This increase in production has contributed to increased bean exports amounting to USD 80M in 2018.
The seed industry was liberalized in 1994, and Uganda Seed Project which had monopoly over the seed sector was privatized in 2005, allowing growth of private sector investment. There has been an increase in the number of seed companies registered from initially 7 in 2005 to currently > 44. The total demand for seed in Uganda is projected at 140,000 MT but the formal seed sector is estimated at 80,000 MT. The compelling varieties and products released have been the major driver in private sector investment in seed business. The institute continues to play a key role in maintenance of these varieties, early-generation seed and routine quality assurance and monitoring of increased quality of seed on the market.
The seed systems have not been well-developed for vegetatively propagated crops such as cassava and sweet potato and horticultural and oil palm crops, stifling delivery and uptake of improved varieties. Efforts have been made for these crops to develop and streamline the seed system of these crops by development of standards, guidelines and business models to build formal seed systems for these major food security crops.
Table 1. Formal seed sales, 2014 – 2019
Source: USTA, 2019
NaCRRI is also harnessing modern biotechnology and other advanced tools to address intractable challenges in agriculture. These new tools are important to improve the quality and efficiency of developing better varieties. Some of the on-going research has been in transgenic technology to combat cassava brown streak and development and testing of drought tolerant and insect resistant maize and nutrient efficient rice varieties. These biotechnology applications have resulted into products ready for commercialization given enabling policy environment. Other ground-breaking innovations have been on use of genome editing for cassava flowering at seedling stage and developing yellow mottle virus-resistant rice.
There has been innovation in development of biological control and biopesticide development to control sweet potato weevils, fall armyworm, bean root rot and Aflatoxin using Aflasafe technology. Research in on-going for seed technologies to improve quality and vigor such as imazapyr resistant maize, Ms44 and male sterility technology for hybrid maize production.
Several research infrastructure has been developed and others in the pipeline, including the Regional Rice Research and Training Center that includes laboratories, office space and training halls, the cassava center of excellence, modern laboratories for nutrition, germplasm conservation, diagnostics and genetic transformation. Other research facilities include irrigation, seed processing and storage, and screen houses.
During the same period, Kiige citrus scheme was revamped with renovation and construction of new office and residential houses, machinery and nurseries. There have been significant efforts in human capacity development by training both staff and students from various universities. On average, a total of 40 graduate students are supported and trained annually.
In the last five years, research from the institute has resulted in 235 publications in peer-reviewed journals and several knowledge products for use by extension and farmer trainings.
Work with us: Application Procedure for Volunteers and Internships
Volunteers: Interested persons are advised to write and deliver applications to NaCRRI on weekdays.
Internships: NaCRRI runs one internship program annually. Students are advised to deliver applications and university recommendations to the Institute on weekdays.
Partnerships and Collaborations
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