icipe in Uganda

icipe opened an office in Uganda in 2012. Based in Tororo, eastern Uganda, the office was mandated to disseminate the Centre’s Push-Pull technology, with support from the programme team based at the icipe Thomas Odhiambo campus, Mbita, on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya. These early efforts enabled the expansion of the technology to four districts in eastern Uganda.

At the end of 2014, Girma Hailu was appointed head of the office, with the role of continuing to expand Push-Pull while also elevating the set-up to national status.

One of the first milestones was the relocation of the icipe office to Mbale town (some 50 kilometres from Tororo), a hub of regional and international development focused institutions. This move provided proximity, opportunities for collaborations and partnerships, and enhanced icipe’s visibility among key stakeholders.

A second accomplishment was boosting of staff capacity to upscale Push-Pull in the short term, and other icipe technologies in the long term. The focus included training in aspects such as the science of Push-Pull, communication, ethical practices, principles of collaborations among others. Today, the icipe Uganda Office is composed of one scientist, six technicians, and several youth on internships.

A third achievement was a shift in the strategy of disseminating the Push-Pull technology. Initially, the office partnered with the local administration, farmer groups and farmer teachers at county level, for example by using forums convened for other community purposes to create awareness on Push-Pull.

Soon, the team identified other avenues that enhance the technology dissemination and retention through working with local level institutions such as farmer groups. Although this provided a lot of opportunity to reach farmers within short time the team realized  that farmer group members come from different villages whic led to led to fragmented adoption, inadequate visibility and less opportunity to link Push-pull with other technologies.

Therefore, starting in 2016, the researchers started considering options to promote Push-Pull at community level which will eventually lead to  landscape level technology dissemination which is instrumental for striga and Fall armyworm management. The office also hired land, and set up Push-Pull demonstration and on-station research sites at the Tororo Cooperative College which is used for training.

A fourth aspect was the combining of synergies with various partners including food For the Hungry and Send a Cow, two non-governmental organisations working in Uganda, as well the  Technology Transfer Unit (TTU), through the Push-Pull sub-Saharan Africa project, funded by Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Switzerland, which has contributed to expanding the technology in Uganda.

So far, 51,000 farmers, have been trained,  out of which 20,000 (47% of them women) have adopted the technology. Over 50 field days have been held, and about 1460 farmer groups, with 30 members each, have been reached. Close to 390 pupils in 15 schools primary school, have had Push-Pull training, and, as a result, 211 have established Push-Pull in their schools. In total, Push-Pull is now practiced in 12 districts in eastern Uganda.

The lessons learnt in Uganda are being integrated into TTU’s Push-Pull validation trials in Zambia, Malawi and Rwanda. Indeed, this partnership has led to an unforeseen potential of the icipe Uganda office as a hub for central Africa. For instance, in July 2018, the office in partnership with Food for the Hungry organised an agroecology workshops that attracted strong participation from Uganda, Burundi, Mali, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Participants appreciated the ability to travel to Mbale by road, a more affordable option.

The Uganda office has been very instrumental in the implementation of the Community Based Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning (CBFAMFEW), an icipe-FAO initiative aiming at building capacity among community to scout pheromone traps using mobile applications in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

Moving forward, the icipe Uganda office has two goals. First, to work with all of the Centre’s programmes and projects towards a holistic and integrated implementation of technologies that will address range of challenges being faced by Ugandan farmers. Second, the office intends to strengthen its national and regional roles, towards expanding the Centre’s footprint and impact.