A compact soil and water analytical platform in Uganda

IMG 20220309 121038

The Mobile and high precision soil testing platform donated by the Cambridge-Africa programme, was launched in Feb 2022 at Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute, Central Uganda.   


Unboxing and equipment testing. A, unboxed Palintest kit, B, Warren Arinaitwe, a Cambridge-Africa alumni training a local CIAT scientist- Allan Ssekamatte and C-D, Allan repeating the procedures on potting soil for bean germplasm phenotyping. The platform is rapid, accurate and gives consistent results.

The platform is a gamechanger in three ways. Firstly, it will provide researchers and farmers with real-time, reliable and cost-effective soil diagnostics. Currently, Uganda has less than five functional soil testing service providers, which are unaffordable and unreliable. Secondly, the platform will offer robust evidence that users can pivot their crop selection and fertiliser application decisions. Currently, most farmers use assumptive means to apply fertilisers and end up using excessive amounts of all-purpose fertilisers, an approach that is wasteful and costly. Thirdly, data gathered from distinct farm points across diverse farming systems will be helpful in future data-driven investments in crop improvement, such as artificial intelligence.

The platform is hosted by The Alliance for Biodiversity International and CIAT, Uganda and can be accessed by all users at no cost. The service is expected to benefit 15,000-25,000 actors farmers in different agro-ecologies of Uganda.

Written by Dr Warren Arinaitwe

Recent PhD scholar on a Cambridge-Africa Scholarship who received an equipment grant from Cambridge-Africa's Alborada Research Fund