Makerere University’s Professor Noble Banadda will start collecting about Shs1.4 billion annually in grants after being inaugurated as one of the 10 Oliver Reginald Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative (ORTARChI) recipients.
According to Makerere University, for the next five years, Prof. Banadda will receive US$250,000 (about Shs 928 million) annually and an additional offer of €100,000 (Shs440 million) from Wageningen University for the next 15 years.
This brings the total to about Shs1.4 billion.
The grants will be utilized in supervising research in agricultural waste management on farms with a target of training 15 PhD, 9 Postdoctoral and 27 Masters students.
The inauguration ceremony was held via zoom from South Africa.
In Uganda and Makerere University, the ceremony was witnessed by media at the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) Project Office.
The ORTARChI chair and grant feeds into the Makerere’s Vision as enshrined in its new Strategic plan (2020-2030) that is to become a research-led university.
This is the first fully-funded Research Chair in Makerere University.
The Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation is a public benefit organisation established to promote, protect and preserve the legacy of veteran freedom fighters and doyens of democracy, Oliver and Adelaide Tambo.
The Foundation achieves this by undertaking education-focused, community-upliftment initiatives that seek to instill the values for which the Tambos stood into a new generation.
Noble Banadda, born in 1975, is a Ugandan biosystems engineer, researcher and academic.
He is a professor of Biosystems Engineering at Makerere University’s Department of Agricultural and Bio-systems engineering, which is under the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering.
He was appointed as a full professor in 2012 at age 37, the youngest person in the history of the university to attain full professorship.
Under this grant, Makerere University will work with South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and Wageningen University of the Netherlands to expose students to different study and research environments and also feed into university’s internationalization agenda.
The Oliver Reginald Tambo Africa Research Chair was advertised two years ago in search of high caliber scientists who will be able to supervise doctoral and post-doctoral research on the African continent, but specifically to solve African problems.
For any candidate to apply for ORTACHI chair, the initiative set standards that attracted 1,500 applicants.
The researcher had to be anchored in a research institution at the rank of a Professor with a minimum of 200 publications.
Additionally, the applicant must have supervised at least seven PhD students and had a citation index of not less than 18. Only 10 candidates (including Prof. Banadda) out of the 1,500 applicants qualified to receive the Research Chairs.
Prof. Banadda is ranked 69th worldwide in the area of waste management while in Africa, he holds the 4th position.
The other parameters considered were the applicants’ alma mater, international exposure and the network of people the candidate has worked with.
Prof. Banadda’s candidature was supported by South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) and Wageningen University.
“I am grateful to God that I have been selected among the 10 recipients of the O.R. Tambo Research Chairs. I am grateful to Makerere University for having given me an opportunity to excel; Secondly, I am grateful to the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology for their letter of support; and to Wageningen University in the Netherlands for their counter offer conditioned upon my winning the Chair,” Prof. Banadda said.
“Wageningen University offered me €100,000 per year for the next 15 years and also gave me an offer to be an extraordinary professor in their university. All these offers enhanced my chances of winning,” he went on.
“The Oliver Tambo research chair is a prestigious chair that provides US$250,000 per year for the first five years, and based on satisfactory performance, it’s renewable twice. So, it can run for fifteen years.”
The ORTARChI award to Prof. Banadda will focus on sustainable agriculture under the thematic area of food security.
“I am going to create models or systems of recycling our waste into agriculture, i.e. to see how we can avoid the use of artificial fertilizers by making use of organic fertilizers such that I increase agricultural productivity, technology, and efficiency,” the professor said.
“I want to use the engineering point of view to explore how best to extract nutrients from agricultural waste and plug them back into the soil to make sure that crops grow faster and better without wasting them so as to complete the cycle instead accumulating waste.”
He explained that ORTARChI is an African project aimed at building capacity in Africa and therefore students must be African.
As such, the University will advertise internationally so as to attract African students who will solve problems and create solutions for farmers in Africa while based at Makerere.