Universities under the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the science ministry to boost innovations in institutions.
This is intended to enhance the deployment of science, technology and innovation for poverty reduction, rural livelihood improvement, entrepreneurship and job creation to enhance national development.
Prof. Adipala Ekwamu the executive secretary RUFORUM, noted with concern that a good number of youths who are innovating need help in order to advance their innovations and also get linked to the business community which can help them grow.
"This MOU is very important because at the initiation of RUFORUM, the fundamental mandate is to support agricultural development across Africa.
As we worked to ensure that we build a strong agriculture sector, we observed a need to build capacities in other areas and clearly science, technology and innovations was seen as the foundation base for building research and technical capacity for innovation, "he said.
He observed that in situations of pandemics like Covid -19, digital technology is required to support a lot of processes.
"Above all for any country to realise development, there is a need for strong education sector and a very strong science, technology and innovation base, "he said.
He revealed that African ministers have tasked African governments to establish an initiative on building African Science, Technology and Innovations capacity.
The professor observed the need to nurture the inquisitiveness and innovativeness of the young people through building their foundation right from the beginning.
"I implore government to increase support to the young innovators of the country in the different sectors through the innovations fund and also build science, technology and innovation capacity right from the basics other than from the top to the basics, "he said.
He explained that RUFORUM is a big and growing network with current membership of about 129 universities across 38 African countries saying it would be a good government agency to help link the government effort to the various individual universities' efforts and other research institutions.
"We have expanded beyond agriculture which is the back bone of Africa's economy while taking into consideration science, technology and innovation which we strongly believe can make agriculture a great pillar of the economy, "he said.
The permanent secretary Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations David Obong said collaborating with partners through research is the only way of advancing agricultural development.
"In order for the back born to remain robust, you cannot escape issues of research in seed varieties, market opportunities, disease control, climate change and development.
Since our portfolio is Science, Technology and innovations, you cannot have them without research and that's why we have scientists, universities and Individuals all investing in research, "he said .
He said that the availability of the innovation fund has helped people to compete for funds to innovate and produce products which must be taken through commercialisation in order for it to create jobs.
"Uganda's burden now is the youths and if not empowered and channeled out as innovators, they may not benefit society, the reason for continued championing of agricultural research, "Obong said.
The MOU he said will also strengthen the management of intellectual property arising from the research, development and provide lessons to the wider African continent in addition to generating evidence based new knowledge to guide policy and decision making.