The National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) is a constituent institute of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) mandated to conduct research on cereals, root crops, legumes, horticultural crops and oil palm.
The institute is a major hub for crop technology generation and innovations that are spurring agricultural transformation; curbing food and nutrition insecurity; malnutrition; promoting agro-industrialization and commodity exports. It is located 27km from Kampala on Gayaza-Zirobwe road.
Crop technologies transforming livelihoods and fostering socio-economic development
To generate, promote and disseminate appropriate crop technologies, knowledge and information
The Root Crops Programme aims at improving the productivity of staple food root crops i.e. cassava, sweet potato and, most recently yam. It houses the Cassava Regional Centre of Excellence (CRCoE). The CRCoE is increasing cassava productivity through leadership in cassava research, training and dissemination of improved cassava resources and information with key stakeholders, including researchers, extension workers and farmers. The Program also domiciles the Uganda National Sweet Potato Programme which develops sweet potato varieties with multiple desirable traits such as high yield, high dry matter content, high pro-vitamin A content, resistance to viruses and weevils and meet consumer and market demands.
The National Legumes Research programme started more than 30 years ago with the aim of working towards restoring resistance in released/indigenous bean varieties and development of new genotypes with acceptable consumption and market qualities. The Program currently conducts research to improve two of the country’s major legumes; common beans and peas.
Maize and rice are currently the crops being researched on under the Cereals Program. The program purposes to develop maize and rice varieties that meet consumer demands with focus research areas including developing varieties that are climate smart, pest resilient and mycotoxin safe. Other priority areas include crop management practices to bridge the gap between researcher-farmer yields.
This program supports the Horticulture & Oil Palm sector through conducting research that addresses issues of sustainable production and productivity, nutrition and climate change. The objective is to develop superior varieties, best crop management practices, and establish seed systems and post-harvest handling techniques. Current research focus includes;
Established in August 2015 under NARO, the Uganda Biosciences Research and Training Center (UBRTC) has a vision to be a leader in using latest biosciences knowledge and cutting-edge technologies to contribute to social and economic transformation. UBRTC has three main components that include; research and innovations, capacity building and communication. The center was established with a purpose to undertake innovative biosciences research, offer training and provide services that would aid in technologies or products development.
The NISCU coordinates all efforts in management of invasive species on biological diversity, ecosystem functioning, climate change and land-use as well as generate and deploy scientific control innovations through cutting edge research.
Maize is grown on more than one million hectares (about 20 percent) of total crop area in Uganda by more than 4.5 million households providing employment for growers, traders, millers, food and feed processors. Over 60% of the maize is exported earning foreign exchange to the country of more than US$ 87m (World Bank, 2018)
Rice varieties have increased production and significantly reduced rice imports saving approximately US$ 30 million in foreign exchange and thereby addressing the balance of payment deficit (URA, 2012)
improved cassava varieties rapidly multiplied and distributed to at least 77% of farmers reversed the mosaic disease epidemic from the national average incidence of 64% in 1994 to 17% in 2013. The epidemic had wiped out more than 500 land races of cassava. By 2003, investment in cassava Research at Namulonge saved US$ 131m that Uganda would have otherwise had to spend on cassava imports for food and industrial use. Cassava is increasingly used for ethanol production and breweries to substitute barley and wheat.
beans are a major staple food crop in Uganda grown in all agro-ecologies. All the 28 bean varieties popularly grown in Uganda were developed, released and maintained by NaCRRI. Currently, at least 950,000 metric tons are produced annually of which at least 30% is exported fetching at least US$ 40m in foreign exchange. The bean industry provides additional food security and employment along the value chain.
Strategic crops to faciliatate increased household income in Uganda and are a priority for NAADS inputs purchase and distribution by OWC. NaCRRI is addressing some key challenges affecting mango and citrus production and currently working closely with OWC to address gaps in demand for seedlings totaling to more than 20 million.
Managing malnutrition cost-effectively - Special NaCRRI natural bio-fortified crops such as vitamin A rich sweet potato, cassava and maize, iron and zinc rich beans and protein rich maize are developed to improved health, reduce malnutrition and costs incurred on expensive food supplements and artificial health products.
The Institute is a major source of initial breeder and foundation seed for most food crops including cassava, rice, sweet potato in the seed production value chain in the country. The institute has also been instrumental in nurturing the growth of the seed industry in Uganda. Following its mandate, NaCRRI continues—every season—to produce early generation seed to support seed companies to produce certified seed. Crop varieties developed at the institute, especially maize, rice, and beans are marketed by private seed companies that bulk and produce certified seed for sale to farmers throughout the country. Quality seed is an important input for increased agricultural production. Seed production procedures under the Plant and Seed Act, 2006, require isolation distances of more than 200m between different varieties to avoid contamination. In response to a Presidential directive to increase quality seed production, NARO under its private entity—NARO Holdings—has increased seed production activities at the institute to address the challenges of poor seed quality and inadequate quantity. In the 2016 season, more than 200 MT of seed was produced
Collaborations and partnerships: The institute hosts other national and international research programs such as the current Presidential initiative under Makerere University for farmer and youth training and targeting commercialization of agriculture production using smallholder setting. This is already a model partnership between university training and agricultural research to spur commercialization of agriculture using adoption of improved technologies by youth and smallholder farmers. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) conducting research on banana is also based at Sendusu in Namulonge.