Welcome To MaRCCI

Makerere University’s Regional Centre for Crop Improvement ultimately addresses the welfare of the smallholder farmer and thus contributes to the development and prosperity of the nation of Uganda and its neighbors.

MaRCCI’s goal of addressing food security challenges throughout the region of central, eastern, and southern Africa focuses on three elements –

  1. Excellence in educating professional plant breeders and seed scientists who are well equipped to develop and disseminate crop varieties that have improved resistance to disease and insects and better tolerance for dry periods;
  2. Research to support such training and contribute to improved crop varieties for all regions of Uganda and its neighbors;
  3. Services to strengthen the nation’s agricultural industry, including scientists, technicians, extension personnel, seed producers, and farmers.


Overview of MaRCCI

Since 2008, Makerere University has hosted a graduate-level program in plant breeding, seed systems, and biotechnology especially for students from Central and Eastern Africa but including those from Southern and West African countries.

This program was started by a consortium of regional universities to cooperate in providing quality education at a graduate level in various fields.  Makerere University was awarded the task of training Masters and Doctoral students in plant breeding, seed systems, and biotechnology, which uses scientific assessment and manipulation to produce better crops – varieties with higher yields, that respond well to climate or disease challenges and improve nutritional content.

The recent grant from World Bank has enabled Makerere’s regional plant breeding program to be established as a Centre of Excellence for training plant breeders for Eastern and Southern Africa.  In this capacity, we have an opportunity to revise the curriculum to better meet the unique needs of students, and to significantly strengthen the Ph.D. program. This includes supplementing the classroom lectures with a web-based e-learning curriculum developed in cooperation with Iowa State University. Our instruction is also strengthened through in-service pedagogical training and visiting lecturers in cooperation with Kwazulu Natal Univ. (S. Africa), Africa University (Zimbabwe), Kwame Nkrumah University and WACCI (both in Ghana), as well as with Iowa State, North Carolina State, and Purdue universities in the USA.

The Center provides industry-ready plant breeders who can use cutting-edge science to develop and deliver new food crop varieties to the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) nations, and beyond. There is an urgent need for plant breeders throughout the region and continent to develop of improved varieties that increase crop productivity, improve food security, nutrition, and rural incomes, reduce poverty, and contribute to economic development. Students and staff related to MaRCCI published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific articles, some in globally first-tier journals. MaRCCI’s trainees have produced a number of new varieties in their own countries, and MaRCCI’s research programs have developed sorghum and cowpea varieties nearing official registration. MaRCCI also is working toward value-added products and is providing specialized services to public and private crop improvement institutes.

The students’ research projects have dealt over 17 food crops and tress that are important to both Uganda and her neighbors.  For example, sorghum, finger millet (kalo), cowpea and common beans have been bred for tolerance to the drier climates of Karamoja and northern Uganda, while potato and rice were assessed for the highland regions of Kabale, and sorghum, maize, and cassava for the cooler climate in Zombo. The cowpea and sorghum research programmes on the farm at Kabanyolo give the students experience in modern methods of data collection and assessment. Univ. of Calif. at Riverside, Purdue University, ICRISAT, and IITA cooperate by sending their materials to these efforts. The up-to-date biotechnology lab provides training for the students in molecular breeding methods.

Graduate Programmes

The purpose of the Center is to provide support in the delivery of high-quality training in plant breeding, seed systems, and biotechnology through the Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology (PBB) and the MSc in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems (PBSS). Both programs are in the Department of Agricultural Production of CAES. The core of the plant breeding training is anchored by progressive variety development programs in cowpea and sorghum, both drought-tolerant, climate-resilient crops. MaRCCI also has a seed systems program and provides short-course training in data analysis, seed systems, proposal writing, scientific communication, and a range of other relevant subjects.

127 master’s level and 57 doctoral level students from 20 African countries have passed through this program. Except for those who are upgrading to Ph.D. level, almost all students from this program have returned to their home area in Africa. Many have been put into positions of research leadership for improving food crops in their own country, for example in Rwanda and South Sudan.

To the historical and continuing emphasis on graduate-level training of plant breeders, MaRCCI is adding three on-site research programs at Kabanyolo in cowpea, sorghum, and seed systems. These are for both student instruction and demonstration of best-practice inbreeding, and seed systems in cooperation with NARO’s research programs.

Service and outreach to the scientific and farming communities of Uganda and the region is another focus of MaRCCI’s present efforts. These include testing seeds for quality and purity, diagnosing plant diseases, providing access to the biotechnology lab and bio-informatic services, and organizing short courses for scientists, technicians, and extension personnel.

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Online Admission Applications

Makerere Regional Centre for Crop Improvement offers a wide range of study opportunities at different levels of your career. These programmes which are conducted in English as the language of instruction. Access The online application link by clicking the Apply Now button below and you will be redirected to the Makerere University Online Applications Portal

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