On 23rd November 2022, the USAID team led by the USAID Economic Growth Office Director visited the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL) Kawanda to monitor the progress of the ongoing Feed the Future Agriculture Research Activity.
The USAID team was interested in understanding how NARO plans to scale out the developed novel technologies, participate in the strengthening of product incubation systems, develop supportive policy and take advantage of emerging research opportunities.
Speaking at the meeting, Prof. Wilberforce Tushemereirwe praised USAID for the support rendered to research that dates back from the 1990s to date. “USAID Support has contributed significantly to reducing poverty from 56% in the early 1990s to the current 21%,” he said.
NARO is currently implementing a 5-year project (NARO Feed the Future Research Activity) focusing on the commercialization of research products, this is in partnership with the private sector players. This initiative has enabled NARO to develop 20 prototypes of value-added products across commodities: Bananas, Beans, Coffee, Sweet Potatoes, Sorghum, Millet & Livestock.
Under the banana commodity, NARO has developed 6 prototypes of value-added products which include Green Resistant Starch, Nanofilms technology, Industrial ethanol, Natural colorant (Dye), Fibre for textiles & a fibre extraction machine.
According to Dr. Priver Namanya, the Team Leader of the Banana Research Program, some of these are already on the market and the incomes are impacting social economic development and livelihood for the farmer.
The team also had a tour of the Provitamin A bananas Confined Field Trials (CFT) based at NARL Kawanda. Through the same support of USAID, NARO has established a pipeline for the improvement of crop varieties through genetic engineering banana lines with resistance to weevils, nematodes, and Bacterial Wilt at confined field trials in Kawanda; Provitamin A line in multi-location trials.