Uganda is one of the project countries of our project on wood-based bio-economy focusing on small-scale farm production. In March, a TUD delegation with two staff members, Prof. Gerald Kapp and Maxi Domke, and three students (MSc and BSc level) travelled to Uganda for starting the first research works. For all of them it was the first time being in Uganda. And Uganda presented itself with an impressive green landscape and enjoyable climate during the just started short rainy season.
The Ugandan partner project team welcomed us at the host institution the Makerere University in Kampala – the oldest Ugandan university and one of the biggest in Eastern Africa. The team is headed by Dr. Justine Namaalwa with support of Prof. Mnason Tweheyo the Dean of the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences.
Major objective of the trip was the visit of the study district Mubende for the WoodCluster research, to identify particular villages for student research and introduce the project and ourselves to the local authorities and communities. Mubende is located around 170 km to the west of Kampala and is one of the biggest and oldest districts in Uganda. In the area, farmers grow maize and beans, but also practice agroforestry and tree planting which is of special interest for our project. Beside commercial trees like Eucalyptus and Pine, also indigenous trees can be found. We had the chance to interact with farmers and visit their agroforestry farms.
Even though, the farmers as well as the local authorities were very welcoming and willing to answer our questions, this trip needed intensive preparation and reconnaissance visits to the area and different local authorities by our Ugandan colleague. The reason behind is that Mubende district is sensitive to land issues due the historical development and presence of different land tenure types as well as actual large-scale investors.
The three German students are now spending the next weeks up to two months in Mubende area. Their research focuses on typology of farming systems, farming system analysis with emphasize of tree farming, and indigenous tree growth performance. The introduction to the study area by the Ugandan team and accompanied by their German supervisor Prof. Kapp, gave them the chance to get to know the area, test their skills and expertise in the new environment and find translators to support their work and interaction with farmers in the villages
As WoodCluster is a joint project, in a few months three Ugandan students will follow and conduct their MSc research in Mubende district. With the support of the Ugandan and German staff, they will develop their research concept on value chain analysis of wood product and farm woodlots inventory. The same procedure of joint Ugandan and German research shall go on for the next project years to gain complementary research works contributing to the project goal of understanding and improving wood-based bio-economy in Uganda.
We thank our colleagues from Makerere University for the warm welcome and great facilitation of our visit.
Maxi Domke and Gerald Kapp