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William Kyamuhangire

Associate Professor and Manager of the Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre, Makerere University

Uganda

What most impressed the professional colleagues who nominated this role model?

William Kyamuhangire believes in upgrading African traditional technology and products.  His research has focused on developing and marketing practical technological improvements that enable African agribusiness to aim higher than they currently are.  Over the past 22 years, he has served at Makerere University as Director of the Agricultural Research Institute in Kabanyolo, Head of Department Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and currently as Associate Professor and Manager of the Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre. 

One of the technologies William has worked on and upgraded is the manual banana juice extraction technology widely used by farmers in the East-African Highlands.  He has succeeded in developing a mechanized process for juice extraction that can be used for commercial production of banana juice.  For his efforts William was issued with a patent and awarded the Source of Nile Class I award by the Government of Uganda. William has also carried out research on the extraction of flavours from local plants.  In particular he pioneered the extraction of the Mulondo (Mondia whitei) flavor for which a patent was obtained.  The roots of the Mulondo plant, a wild plant, are eaten for the good flavour that freshens the mouth.  William has developed a method of extracting this flavour and using it in flavouring beverages.  Because of the added value and high demand for this plant, William has carried out pioneering work in its domestication so that farmers can grow it on commercial basis.

To commercialize these and other agro-processing technologies, he has helped to set up and run a state-of-the-art business incubator at the university, probably the first of its kind in East and Central Africa.  The centre has taken on more than 20 entrepreneurs who have created more than 30 different value added products and more than 70 jobs. 

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • I would say it was destiny.  At the time I went to secondary school there was limited career guidance from the teachers and none at all from my parents.  The turning point came when Uganda was recovering from the effects of the civil war in 1987.  At the time, the whole industrial sector had come to a standstill and I was unemployed.  I guess I was seeking ways of making myself relevant to the new economic and political order.  So I applied to study food engineering in Australia for my master’s degree and that was the beginning of an exciting carrier in agriculture.

How can agricultural education institutions more effectively prepare African students for successful agribusiness careers? 

  • Provide scholarships to disadvantaged deserving students from rural environment without gender discrimination. Under the current commercialized education system in many African countries, it is the children of the rich who can make it to university because they can afford to pay the high fees in top-notch secondary schools leading to good grades that are a requirement for university entry. 
  • Encourage skills development through entrepreneurship training, for example through the setting up of incubation centers. 

Career highlights

  • Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Makerere University.
  • Manager, Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre, Makerere University.
  • Head, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Makerere University.
  • Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, Makerere University.
  • Director of Projects, Makerere University Private Sector Forum.
  • Coordinator, National Fortification Project, Ministry of Health.
  • Director, Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute, Kabanyolo.

Educational background

  • Primary school:
    • Kakabara Primary School, Kyegegwa District.
  • Secondary school:
    • St Leo’s College Kyegobe.               
  • University:
    • B.Sc. Industrial Chemistry, Makerere University.
    • Graduate Diploma, Food Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia.
    • M.AppSc. Food Technology, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia.
    • PhD. Food Technology, Agricultural University of Norway