Contributed with content from Joseph Mulema, CABI in Africa
Since 2005, Plantwise has been supporting the establishment of plant clinics and knowledge bank access in Uganda. But recently, plans to expand clinic operations to each sub-county have led to increased demand for trained and knowledgeable plant doctors. To answer this call, and provide a promising career opportunity for a new generation of agriculturists, the University of Makereke’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), based at the University Research Institute at Kabanyolo, Uganda, has launched a summer term for BSc students on Plantwise Module 1 and Module: how to become a plant doctor and run a successful plant clinic.
The government of Uganda has been and essential partner through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF) supplying resources and equipment. Now through the partnership with Makerere, a prestigious institute drawing students from across the continent, Plantwise will find bright and motivated young graduates to provide diagnostics and advice to the farmers.
As noted in Makerere’s coverage of the launch event, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Dr Robert Karyeija told students that they were a lucky group. “Uganda has 112 districts applying for plant clinics,” said Dr Karyeija. “What we’re missing are young graduates interested in the fight against pests and diseases. This training will make you enter the job market because every district will require at least two plant doctors.”
Dr Joseph Mulema, CABI Country Coordinator for Uganda, said that discussions were already underway with Makerere University to integrate this training into the University curriculum, in addition to the monitoring & evaluation, and laboratory diagnostic support the institution already provides for clinic operations.
“We have started with the recess term training of students on how to become a plant doctor and we are planning an in-service training where Makerere University will accredit a doctor training to be offered to extension staff in different organizations,” says Mulema. “We are also working on the integration of this training into the curriculum so that each student who goes through CAES can have an opportunity to learn about Plantwise”.