The ideas are there – now its harvest time

The VIPs take a final bow

The two-day science policy dialogue came to a close this afternoon. Two things are clear from the meeting. The first is that Uganda has an impressive range of user-friendly technologies under development.

These include efforts to:

  • Improve disease resistance and post-harvest handling of bananas – Uganda’s golden fruit.
  • See if the Nile perch, a staple carnivorous fish, can be switched to a vegetarian diet to spare the depleted stocks of smaller fish that make up its mainstay.
  • Persuade farmers to use their left over biowaste – such as millet husks – to create charcoal briquettes, which are currently imported from South Africa.

The second is that technology transfer poses a considerable challenge. UNCST staff would be the first to admit that they still do not know how best to identify the most promising innovations and promote their incubation and commercialisation.

This is a problem that many governments face all over the world. Still, no silver bullets were presented at the meeting. A conference such as this can only bring ideas – not set out a work plan. More focused discussions will be required to de-bone key issues stifling commercialisation like proper intellectual property protection.

Still, Ugandans have worked hard for their advances. This bodes well for the future.

To conclude, I want to thank the UNCST for inviting me to participate in the policy dialogue. My tip for anyone coming this way?  Try the local mashed banana, matooke, perhaps with some spicy beef stew. It’s quite a treat!

Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net columnist

A final bow by the honoured guests from Uganda and South Africa

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