The Government dedicated June 9 every year to Ugandaâ€™s heroes as a gesture of appreciation and re-commitment to the cause for which those people excelled for the good of humanity. The bulk of the heroes are former politicians or at least had strong linkages with polit
The Government dedicated June 9 every year to Ugandaâ€™s heroes as a gesture of appreciation and re-commitment to the cause for which those people excelled for the good of humanity. The bulk of the heroes are former politicians or at least had strong linkages with politics.
Dr Otim Nape, the director general of National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) says it is time scientists were recognised for the coveted status.
NARO made 12 years in March. Nape believes his team has successfully won several scientific battles to â€œsave so many lives in the country, the region and the continent, through increased agricultural productivity, food security and incomes at household and national levelâ€.
He paid tribute to the late Dr. John Aluma who he said, contributed enormously to the various NARO successes and achievements since its inception.
â€œHe was an administrator, a researcher, and a colleague of a rare character on whose guidance a lot of success has been made. At the time of his death he was the deputy director general of research at the NARO secretariat. He must be recognised together with several other scientists who passed away as heroes.â€ He said.
Dr Aluma was at the forefront of promoting natural therapy particularly herbs and fruits for medication. He was a crucial link between the herbalists, the Government and the medical fraternity to ensure that herbalists get patent rights on their medicine. Today herbal medicine is very popular, especially in treating opportunistic diseases associated with HIV/AIDS.
Some of NAROâ€™s ahievements include, the green cassava revolution, which saved the country from the cassava mosaic virus by developing cassava mosaic varieties, thus ensuring food security.
The eradication of water hyacinth by use of Neochetina bruchi and Neochetina eichorniae weevils to clear the weed that had chocked lakes Victoria, Albert and Kyoga and parts of the River Nile. This saved the country the impact the weeds could have caused on transport, fish, and electricity generation. Fish exports are the leading source of foreign exchange to the country.
Another break through is use of a biotechnology to develop genetically modified banana. The technology will improve the local banana varieties which do not have seeds. The development of Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, yams and bean varieties fthat are not only tolerant to local problems but are also user friendly are other achievements. NARO has also developed technologies for making animal feeds, grafting of fruits, promoting poultry of crossbreed and local birds and animals.
The challenges include the banana wilt disease now covering 30 banana growing districts, the whiteflies that have hit particularly the improved cassava varieties, and the disease that attacks the elephant grass.
Dr Nape called upon the Government to increase funding for research, and remuneration to motivate the scientists. NARO, together with the Government is now hosting the 3rd General Assembly of the Forum for African Scientists running from June 6-12, in Entebbe and exhibitions in Jinja.
The writer is a journalist
Researchers too are heroes, great heroes