Africa Center of Excellence ACE2

MaRCCI injects 50 Million Ushs in Rehabilitation of University Gene Bank

Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) has rehabilitated the Makerere University Gene Bank at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK). The gene bank is used for seed storage and to preserve traditional varieties so that they are not lost.

After harvest, the seeds are conditioned (threshed, cleaned, sorted, treated, packaged) then stored in the cold room within the gene bank. The Director MaRCCI, Dr. Richard Edema, said the gene bank is an important addition and part of the Centre’s continuous investment in research infrastructure to improve the university farm. He said besides utilization by the Centre, the gene bank will be used by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, research institutes and other interested persons in Uganda and the region.

“Seed if not well stored looses viability very quickly and so that is why we have a gene bank with a cold room, I think so far we have invested 50 million Uganda shillings and are still continuing to invest. So far, we can store thousands of seeds in there for MaRCCI, and other colleagues and sister organizations like NARO,” said Dr. Edema.

The Centre recruited a Seed Specialist, Dr. Sharon Mbabazi Tusiime, to run the Seed Science, Technology and Development program in MaRCCI.

“We work with cowpea and sorghum seeds and after planting these in the field, there is need for seed storage from one season to another. We need to place these seeds into safe storage to maintain seed viability until the next growing season. This seed store is maintained at 160 C and the humidity is about 47%. We pack our seed in hermitic bags so that the seed is safe from insect damage or high humidity. This enables us to store the seed for a very long period,” Dr. Tusiime explained. She added, “This storage is important for the university and our country because normally farmers lose seed from season to season due to poor seed storage conditions.”

Mr. Richard Tusiime is a graduate fellow who assists with day-to-day gene bank operations. He said when materials come from the field, they are conditioned. Packing lists are entered into the Breeding Management System for easy retrieval in future. “The Breeding Management System (BMS) and excel helps us to track our breeding activities. Whenever we need to retrieve seed from the cold room, we utilize entry codes, shelf numbers, and tray numbers,”.