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Crop Biotech Update

Agri Extension Service Providers in Uganda Hone Biotech Communication Skills

November 4, 2015

"This training on biotechnology communication was very useful and relevant to me because I enhanced my understanding of biotechnology; I got the skills to become a better communicator on biotechnology and other agricultural innovations", said Mr. Ronald Mpungu, a crop extension worker in Mityana District Local Government. Mr. Mpungu was among 25 extension service providers representing the 11 agro-ecological regions in Uganda, who attended a training workshop on communicating agricultural biotechnology from October 26-27, 2015 in Kampala. The workshop was organized by Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC), in collaboration with ISAAA AfriCenter, and Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development (SCIFODE).

Participants were trained on developing correct messages on biotechnology and biosafety, how to talk about core biotechnology issues on various media platforms such as radio and television, writing newspaper articles and commentary, as well as addressing common public concerns on biotechnology and GMOs. They performed mock radio interviews and visited Confined Field Trial sites for GM maize and cassava at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI). According to Lilian Bagaya from the Bunyoro Kingdom in Western Uganda, the field experience exposed participants to the genetic engineering research being done by our scientists. However, participants urged the organizers to make regional training sessions targeting more representatives of the extension service, and to regularly conduct refresher courses so that the extension service providers can become permanent partners and resource personnel in their districts, to sensitize people at the grassroots.

According to UBIC Coordinator, Dr. Barbara Mugwanya Zawedde, the training was expected to provide opportunity to identify persons that can coordinate regional nodes of UBIC so that the agricultural research including biotechnology information dissemination hub is taken closer to the farmers and the rural communities.

For more information about biotechnology in Uganda, contact the UBIC Coordinator at ubic.nacrri@gmail.com.