Makerere University has embarked on a three-year project that will see soil scientists trained to build capacity among tertiary institutions so as to increase food production in the long-run.
The project worth $872,000 is being funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Makerere University and is aimed at averting the problem of food insecurity in the region.
The PhD course targeting researchers and resource persons was launched last year with eight students from Rwanda and Uganda against a background of declining soil fertility and low food production.
Dr. Lukman Mulumba from the College of Agriculture explained that the trained persons will be deployed in areas in need of soil information to teach and guide farmers on different soil practices, when to plant, when to apply fertilizers, in what quantity, among other related projects.
Due to declining soil fertility in Uganda coupled with low usage of fertilizers by Ugandan farmers, food production will continue to decline, Mulumba noted.
"Almost all areas in Uganda have lost fertility, yet our fertilizer usage is less than one kilogramme per hectare. Fertilizers have been left for the horticulture industry," he added.
He explained that they have been breeding high-yield crop seeds but were not doing well due to lack of knowledge on appropriate soils as a result of overdependence on the few soil scientists from Makerere University by other universities and the farming communities.
"Previously, lecturers from Makerere University have been traversing different agricultural institutions to teach. This may not be effective when it comes to imparting skills to the students," said Mulumba from the College of Agriculture.
The course focuses on application of soil fertilizers, seed identification, weather forecasts, soil water plant relation, soil moisture measurement, fertilizer application, among other topics.