On a mildly-cloudy day, students are passing by the college of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (Cedat) in Makerere, heading somewhere, when electrician Robinson Ntege decides that it is time to put on a show. MOSES TALEMWA was on hand as a steady crowd gathered around Ntege to see the latest innovation from Cedat.
The sun was barely visible. The kind that would not dry clothes in under an hour, but Ntege feels it was good enough. He lays out a solar panel on the ground, connects it to a mortar and later water hose, which sucks water out of a bucket to pour into another bucket. In no time, the water was flowing with such a force that almost everyone was stopping to find out how it worked.
The show is part of an irrigation project started Prof Joseph Byaruhanga of Makerere University. Other members of the project, consisting mostly of mechanical engineers, include Prof Charles Muyanja, Godfrey Wangi, Peter Ojara, Andrew Wabwire, Robinson Ntege and Jacob Etunganan. The low-cost irrigation project is being developed under the Presidential Initiative on Science and Technology since 2010.
“The main goal of the project is to promote adoption of irrigation technologies by smallholder farmers to irrigate crops and guarantee all-year production and hence improve food security of the country,” Byaruhanga said.
From the confines of his tiny office in the old Cedat building, he explains that the project is looking to design an affordable irrigation system that farmers can deploy on their farms.
“We are talking about small farms of two to five-acre tracts of land,” he adds.