[Press Release] A tragic loss in the advancement of Africa’s Agricultural and Food Systems

On Thursday 1st July, 2021 Africa saw one of her youngest innovator and researcher, Professor Noble Banadda Ephraim succumb to Covid-19. Professor Banadda, an Agricultural & Biosystems engineer, researcher and academician will be remembered for his prodigious contribution in building capacity of young scientists, increasing investment in the area of Research and Innovation during his service at Makerere University.

His passion to increase knowledge and share best practices in the area of Food Processing Engineering, Waste Engineering and Renewable Energy will be greatly missed. RUFORUM will miss his focused attention to addressing the quality of food from production to consumption. His attention on food contamination associated with plastic bags wrapping during thermal processing, a practice common in Uganda was eye opening especially to urban and peri-urban residents. Prof. Banadda was equally committed to realizing the full value of agricultural production through conversion of biowaste into energy. These two research interventions received funding from the RUFORUM competitive grants scheme. He was also concerned with addressing the longstanding problems of drudgery in smallholder agriculture. This led to his MV Muliimi tractor innovation, a solar powered irrigation pump, building capacity for quality graduate training in Agricultural Engineering in African Universities, Improving resource-efficient processing techniques and new markets for surplus fruits and vegetables for rural development in Sub-Saharan Africa, among others.
This continental loss comes at a time when African universities are lobbying for government support to increase investment in the area of Science, Technology and Innovation through strategic engagements during the UN Food Systems Summit 2021. African universities over the years have been working with development partners to invest in critical areas that can accelerate productivity and development in the agricultural sector through building capacity of young scientists, creating opportunities for collaborative research and cross learning among universities in Africa and with other global actors.

Professor Banadda was the first African to receive the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Pius XI Award in 2018. At the age of 37, he was one of the youngest persons in the history of Makerere University to attain full professorship and was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Scientist at an Annual Meeting of New Champions in 2014. Professor Banadda was favorably cited with published research findings in over 240 peer-reviewed journal scientific publications. He (co)-supervised 12 PhD and 31 MSc students to completion. He was a gifted fund raiser in agricultural research, human capital development and innovation. He had recently been awarded the Oiliver Tambo Research Chair with an annual budget of US$250,000 and complementary funding of Euro 100,000 for the next 15 years to support graduate research in agricultural waste management and the training of 15 PhDs, 09 Post-Doctoral fellows and 27 MSc. Wageningen University & Research the Netherlands was in final stages of appointing him special professor.

The RUFORUM Network stands together with his family, the Makerere University fraternity as we celebrate a life well lived though taken too soon. A virtual Prayer and commemoration service of Professor Noble Ephriam Banadda was held today 02 July 2021 at 14:00 Kampala Time under the theme “Celebrating the life of Prof. Nobel Ephraim Banadda”. A link of the service is available at https://youtu.be/xGbMbWQHdBE.

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