By Agnes Nantambi
KAMPALA - The government of Israel has tripled its intake for Uganda’s agro-studies internship for agricultural students as a mean of boosting the agricultural sector in Uganda.
The number of students has tripled from 41 to 120.
The revelation was made by the ambassador of Israel to Uganda Gill Haskel during his second visit to Makerere University on Tuesday.
The ambassador, who met with various university officials and the education minister Jesca Alupo, said the first group of Ugandan students currently in Israel are making wonders and the operators have fallen in love with them.
He promised to link Makerere University to Israeli institutions that are working towards boosting forestry and fish breeding most especially Nile Perch.
“I am excited about domesticating the Nile Perch, because this is not a Ugandan challenge but world over most especially in the revolution of food security,” he said.
“If Nile Perch is fully domesticated it will propel the food security in the Victoria basin as now fishermen go into the lake with fishing gear only to come out with nothing.”
Haskell appealed to Ugandan Government and the university to carry out reciprocal visits to its students in Israel to boost their moral and also expose staff to bio-learning and relevant institutions for possible cooperation.
Minister Alupo applauded the Israeli government for their unconditional support towards education, peace and security.
She challenged the students currently in Israel to be Uganda’s ambassadors in the agricultural sector since the president pledged to double savings of those who will have saved some money on return in order to create jobs and employ others other than seeking jobs.
The minister also appreciated Makerere University deans for supporting the presidential initiative in various colleges, saying such programmes will continue to grow as they are managed by committed fellows.
‘These initiatives will enlarge and strengthen the presidential initiative of science, technology and innovations where various colleges are benefiting. When our students come back, we hope that they will make a revolution in agriculture,” she said.
Comparing Israel and Uganda, Alupo said eastern Uganda was zoned to produce citrus fruits but due to lack of expertise the farmers are frustrated.
She went on to request the universities to form farms that will enhance practical learning.
Prof Bernad Bashasha, the principal of the college of agricultural and environmental sciences, said they have been blamed for producing half-baked students just because they lacked enough space to place their students for internship.
“The internship training you are providing to our students is a timely intervention as it helps us to address the practical training gap in dealing with perpetual criticism that our graduates lack the practical skills to serve Uganda’s agricultural needs,” he said.
And added: “We continue to produce white-collar graduates to serve in a blue-collar agricultural environment, leading to a clear miss-match that your country is helping to address”
He said that the agro-studies internship is a timely intervention – when Uganda is grappling to find ways of skilling Ugandan youth – and that Uganda can draw lessons from Israel which turned its desert land into a fertile productive land.
Dr Okello Ogwang, the deputy vice chancellor in charge of academic affairs, said Makerere is working towards becoming a coordination centre for the entire programme.