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Mubs research to change lives

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Dr Fred muhumuza, the director of Mubs  economic forum speaks during the dissemination workshop. PHOTO | NOELINE NABUKENYA

Scholars from Makerere University Business School (MUBS) through the economic forum have embarked on conducting research to address world problems and find possible solutions.

The development was revealed on June 5, during cohort two’s MUBS economic forum dissemination workshop at Silver Springs Hotel, Bugolobi in Kampala. Cohort One presented their results in March this year.

Mr Fred Muhumuza, director of Mubs Economic Forum, said they have produced more than 10 research programmes that have revealed their potential to tackle problems among the people and alleviate poverty in communities.

Mr Muhumuza said they have more than 60 researchers who have come up with different ideas.

“We want to collaborate with different stakeholders in the policy-making arena to help us implement the resolutions that our scholars have come up with,” Mr Muhumuza said.

The forum was founded in 2011 to bring out the interaction between academia and the problems in society that need to be solved.

This research is funded by the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and it has been running for one year.

Alternative uses of renewable energy

One of their successful researches, Dr Muhumuza said, was about productivity of the manufacturing sector. This was informed by different foreign and local companies which were scaling out.

One of the groups of researchers led by Mr Joseph Mukasa looked at alternative uses of renewable energies to address the increasing cases of deforestation that have interfered with the ecosystem.

They focused on the use of briquettes to save resources, protect lives and the environment where people live.

“We looked at briquettes which are believed to be environment friendly. You can make use of waste materials yet they are not dangerous to our lives and the environment,” Mr Mukasa said in his presentation.

The researchers therefore want the communities to realise the hidden business idea of making briquettes as they comply with the presidential directive to stop the use of charcoal.

“We want briquette entrepreneurs to tap into the opportunity and surmount emerging challenges to gain economic value,” he said.

Cassava value addition

Another group of scholars looked at how they can add value to cassava produced in Uganda to penetrate the international market.

Their research was based on the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report of 2020 which states that Uganda is predominantly an agricultural country with 81.2 percent of the working class actively engaging in agriculture.

The cassava value chain researchers found out that even though Uganda ranks 22 in cassava production, the farmers still face several challenges including low productivity, limited market access and poor processing technologies among others.

“There is need for market feedback from the clients on product preferences and quality to help farmers and processors adapt to the customer preferences and meet demands.”

The cassava value chain research was conducted in Northern Uganda where cassava is commonly grown.

Coffee consumption among youth

Another area of research was done on coffee consumption among the youth in Kampala and how to build demand among those demographics.

Mr Darious Mugabe who led the team, found out that coffee consumption among the youth is still very low, attributing it to limited awareness and poor quality coffee produced on the local market.

Research indicated that domestic coffee demand accounted for only 3.5 per cent.

“We wanted to establish the factors that determine coffee demand among youth and determine the nature of coffee products demanded in Kampala,” Mr Mugabe said.

Data was collected from 278 youths from the five divisions of Kampala and established that the level of education contributed a significant factor towards the demand for coffee.

“It positively impacts the demand for coffee through informed consumption patterns, professional expertise, market growth and quality standards,” Mr Mugabe reported.

Assessment of climate change

Mr Deresem Orichom and his colleagues conducted a study on the assessment of climate change adaption and mitigation policy implementation towards food security using a case study of the Karamoja sub-region.

Their study revealed that 61 per cent had severe food insecurity compared to acute food insecurity at 45 per cent on people living in Karamoja.

They therefore wanted to examine factors that affect food security in Karamoja besides climate change and also look at the policy frameworks for implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

‘Rebranding’ MUBS

Impactful research is considered by university authorities as one area that is ‘rebranding’ the institution and selling it to the world.

The acting principal of Mubs, Prof Moses Muhwezi commended the economic forum for realising the potential of scholars and what their research work can do to put smiles on the face of Ugandans.

Prof Muhwezi asked researchers to engage stakeholders in every step they take in conducting research to keep them updated.

“Keep the participants involved in different research stages from the initial stage of selecting the topic, supervision of research so that research is grounded from the start for us to have research-based policies,” Prof Muhwezi said.

He lauded the government for the continuous financial support extended towards the economic forum to realise its goals. He, however, expressed the need to collaborate with policy makers who will push for policy implementation.

Authorities advised that Mubs should not only stop at research, but they should also extend to practical-based learning to train more problem solvers.

Hands-on experience, more topics

Mr Muhumuza guided that teaching at the university should be like a hospital where students learn and touch and address their localities.

Other research proposals included; leveraging information and communication technology for labour utilisation and employment and labour externalisation in Uganda, re-organising public transport management in Uganda: a model for achieving a multimodality that works for all, revisiting the relationship between education attainment and agricultural productivity: evidence from agricultural households in Uganda, and harnessing the potential of herbal medicine in Uganda.

The workshop was graced by different dignitaries who gave advice to the researchers to improve their work to enable them realise the set goals.

Dr Marios Obwona from the National Planning Authority, challenged some of the research findings saying some of the factors are natural and cannot be changed.  He asked the scholars to appreciate the fact that some factors are natural and can hardly be modified thus calling for the need to apply alternative means that can regulate the natural factors.