Mbarara University students develop organic fertiliser

MBARARA– Students in the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies [FIS], Mbarara University of Science and Technology [MUST] have developed an organic fertiliser out of animal waste and plants.

The new I-soft fertiliser was appreciated by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries [MAAIF], Frank Tumwebaze who was at MUST for the 1st Annual Agricultural Innovation and Exhibition organised by FIS in partnership with the Centre for Innovations and Technology Transfer [CITT].

The exhibition was held under the theme: “Higher Technical Education in Africa for an Innovative and Skilled Labourforce towards Agriculture Transformation”.

Lynettee Ndyamuhaki, an alumnus of MUST who completed her degree in Agriculture, Livelihood and Farm Production explained that the new farm input is an organic NPK made up of locally available bio-waste products such as bio-slurry from bio-digester systems. She said the product has already been applied to some farms in the districts of Sheema, Mbarara, Kiruhura, and Isingiro, with positive results being realised.

“We mix these materials in ratios, the bio-slurry gives us nitrogen, Tithonian diversifolia [tree marigold] gives us phosphorus and then the biochar gives us the potassium to get the NPK. We are producing both in liquid and solid form,” Ndyamuhaki said.

She said the new fertiliser is friendly to the environment and affordable to the farmers. “We were able to develop an organic fertiliser which is friendly to the environment and affordable to all farmers,” says Ndyamuhaki.

Jabless Mwesigye, who happened to apply the new fertiliser to her grapes farm in Ibaare cell in Mbarara city, testified that she realised high yields.

“I used to harvest 300 Kilogrammes of grapes from my one-acre farm but this time when I used NPK organic fertiliser, I harvested 500 Kgs of grapes. So I encourage all farmers to use this fertiliser to increase their production,” Mwesigye added.

Minister Tumwebaze who was impressed by organic innovation said: “The future belongs to the products of knowledge and innovation. For you to…earn an income from people, your innovations must be marketable, meaning that what you are discovering must be important to address the challenges of the farmers.”

Tumwebaze pledged to send the inter-ministerial team to test the efficacy of the fertiliser before being allowed in the market.

Further, the minister also pledged to donate a tractor to the university to support agriculture activities.

“I will bring you a 90 horsepower tractor… If your laboratory falls within our mandate, we shall integrate it in some of our research projects,” he said.

One of the external exhibitors, Sedrack Atuhaire, a manager at Kazire Health Products Limited, said the company is rooted in agricultural value chain management to utilise what communities grow. He said the company buys inputs like fruits, vegetables, and herbal plants and processes them into finished products with a long shelf life.

“There is a need for every farmer to add value to his products. “We are trying to link up with higher institutions of learning to create a synergy between industry, research institutions, and the communities to achieve the money economy,” Atuhaire explained.

He however appealed to the government to provide a favourable business environment for the innovators, if they are to contribute to national development.

He said innovators in Uganda face many challenges such as copyright infringement as well as high taxes, which he said discourage innovation and creativity in the country.

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