Blog: Uganda UK Convention, welcome Prof Kikafunda Uganda’s new High Commissioner to London

Uganda UK Convention, welcome Prof Kikafunda Uganda’s new High Commissioner to London

On behalf of all the Ugandan Convention UK we welcome Professor Joyce Kikafunda Uganda’s new High Commissioner to London.

Prof Kikafunda comes with a wealth of experience of life in the diaspora having spent time first at the University of Saskatchewan Canada and then at the University of Reading UK. She is an example of someone who went back home and made a huge contribution to the development of Uganda and her experience will be invaluable to the Ugandan Diaspora.

Prof Kikafunda has been instrumental in the development and growth of the Food Science and Technology at MakerereUniversity. She spearheaded research that examined the effect of poor nutrition on rural women especially in her native Bushenyi and has mentored several young girls to excellence.

We look forward to welcoming her to this year’s Ugandan Convention in London on 15th September 2012. We are especially looking forward to hearing her views on the investment opportunities in Agriculture.

More about Kitafunda

Joyce K. Kikafunda is a professor of food and nutrition at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. She received her MS degree in food science and technology from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, and her PhD degree in food science and nutrition from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. She is well known for spearheading the establishment of the first ever Department of Food Science and Technology in Uganda in 1989, which she headed for 12 years. This department has been instrumental in capacity building for food security, value addition, and human nutrition in Uganda and the region.

Prof. Kikafunda has been a team leader in several national programs and projects sponsored by the FAO, World Bank, and USAID. She is a member of the Nutrition Society of UK, the Food Science and Nutrition Network for Africa, the Uganda Action for Nutrition (UGAN), and Information Technology for Advancement of Nutrition in Africa. Her areas of research include child nutrition, food fortification, and food consumption patterns. She has attended and presented papers on food and nutrition in various international conferences and has published several articles in international refereed and local journals on the same topic. She has supervised more than 20 MS and a number of PhD students in the fields of food science and human nutrition.

In her home country, Prof. Kikafunda has served in the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology and became the chair of its Agricultural Sciences Committee. She has also served in the National Agricultural Research Organization. At present, she sits as a member of the board of the Uganda Technical College (Bushenyi), the Uganda National Food and Nutrition Council, and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards. Currently, she is the president of UGAN and plays an active role in the CGIAR Gender and Diversity Program on African Women in Agricultural Research and Development.


Name: Joyce Kikafunda
Impact: Nurtured the department of food and nutrition.
Trains rural mothers on best practices for feeding children.
Mentors girls to do sciences

As a woman, Prof. Joyce Kakuramatsi Kikafunda has been a pioneer in many things. She was the first woman to get a first-class degree in agriculture at Makerere University.

She is also one of the only six fully recognised female professors at Makerere and the only female professor in agriculture, food science and nutrition in Uganda.

She was also the first woman in her district to get a PhD — but that is not why the food/nutrition scientist is viewed as a national achiever.

Some people want her name to be inscribed on the walls of the state-of-the art faculty of food science and technology.

She is the brain behind the multi-million dollar complex. And, to the illiterate mothers in the districts of Rukungiri, Kanungu and Kabale, she is the reason why the malnutrition levels have slumped from 21% to 11% in only four years.

Her products
Many fondly refer to Kikafunda as the mother of food science and nutrition, training and research.
Fred Lukwago, the product researcher and development at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, says:
“Kikafunda is a mentor and great role model.

All those who have passed through her hands can testify that she is an extraordinary woman.” Lukwago is Kikafunda’s former student.

It is the same story for Sarah Namutebi, a former post-graduate student.
“I don’t only speak for myself but many others who have passed through her hands. She has made a lot of contribution to the field of food science and technology.”

Among other people who have recognised Kikafunda’s work is President Yoweri Museveni.
Officiating at the 20th anniversary of the department of food science and technology recently, the President recognised Kikafunda’s role in developing and nurturing the department from a small unit to the vibrant centre of excellence it is now.

Who is Joyce Kikafunda?
To the ordinary eye, she passes as any other woman. She is soft spoken but with an assertive tone.

On the bookshelf in her office are several neatly framed certificates and awards. Dressed in a red suit, she cuts a reserved posture.

While some questions bring a smile to her face, others only remind her of the challenges she has overcome in her career.

“This is a rewarding profession. You may not get a lot of money, but you can help many people to live a fulfilled life,” Kikafunda says.

“I was in the village training mothers on child care using my little resources. But, doing such things that change people’s livelihood gives me the strength to wake up every morning and work,” Kikafunda explains.

Her family wanted her to be a doctor, but she opted for agriculture — referring to it as a calling.

Kikafunda is also very passionate about the girl-child. In September 2009, the National Council of Science and Technology selected her as one of their science role models to encourage girls in secondary schools to do sciences.

She has mentored the girls by listening to their problems and encouraging them to work hard and excel. Her advice to them is to work hard and never give up.
Kikafunda says one should be resilient and avoid being selfish.

She has helped some master’s degree students pay their fees — a cause she attributes to having empathy for people.
She adds that girls should stop thinking: “I can’t do it because I am a girl.”

Her journey
Kikafunda ventured into a field that was initially scorned as a field mainly for cooking. “It was not an easy start for the department. Food nutrition was a new discipline. People thought it was just about cooking and shunned it,” Kikafunda recalls.

Food science and nutrition is a big discipline that deals with post-harvesting issues, food processing and food technology.

This is very important for a country like Uganda which largely depends on agriculture.

During her term as head of department, she supervised the multi-million NORAD-funded infrastructure development that resulted in a multi-purpose vibrant centre of excellence for training and research, comprising staff offices, lecture theatres, a library, laboratories, a conference centre, a canteen and a state-of-the art food processing pilot plant.

The department of food science and technology which Kikafunda nurtured, has produced over 500 food and nutritional scientists over the 20 years of its existence.

These are absorbed by the food industrial sector, Government ministries, parastatals and NGOs while others are self-employed.

Kikafunda says her role model is Prof. Elly Sabiiti, who always encouraged her to excel.

Her influence
Kikafunda started out with five academic staff when she took over the leadership of the department in 1991, to a strong team of 16 when she handed over office in 2006.

She has successfully completed over 10 research projects. The most noteworthy was “Malnutrition in the face of plenty: An assessment of the causes of the persistent high levels of childhood malnutrition in Western Uganda” from which useful recommendations to guide policy and interventions to reduce childhood malnutrition, were generated.

She has also been a team leader on several national development projects, including the Agriculture Nutrition Advantage project where she was able to influence the addition of nutrition as a cross-cutting issue in the 2005 national Poverty Eradication Action Plan.

Kikafunda does not develop capacity only at the university, but in the community as well. Her outreach projects include training rural mothers on best practices for feeding and caring for their young children.

The project, which she headed for four years, was called Gender-Informed Nutrition and Agriculture (GINA), sponsored by USAID.

GINA ran for four years in the districts of Kabale, Kanungu and Rukungiri.
She is currently implementing the experience gained in that project in her home sub-county of Kyeizooba, Bushenyi district, using her own funds.

Her background
Kikafunda was born in the early 1950s in the remote village of Rwengyeya, Kararo Parish, Kyeizooba sub-county, Bushenyi district, to the late Erieza and Ednance Kakuramatsi.

She is the fourth-born in a family of six, but only one of her siblings is still alive. As a result, she has had several dependants to look after and educate.
She is married to Dr. Joseph Kikafunda of the National Agricultural Research Organisation with whom she has two children.

Educational background
She attended Gayaza High School and as an old girl of the school, she has lived by the school motto: Never Give Up.

In 1976, Kikafunda graduated from Makerere University with a first class honours degree in agriculture.
After her BSc in agriculture, she went to Canada to pursue a master’s in food science and technology at the University of Saskatchewan.

At the end of the 1980s, she returned to Uganda and was appointed lecturer in the department of food science and technology, which was just starting.

She nurtured and headed the infant department for 12 years.
In 1993, she went to the University of Reading, UK, where she graduated with a PhD in food science and nutrition.

In 1998, she was promoted to senior lecturer in the department of food science and technology.

In 2006, she was promoted to associate professor before becoming a full professor, the highest academic position in the university, in 2009.

During her term of office, she spearheaded the development of two master’s degrees: (MSc Food Science and Technology, and MSc in Applied Human Nutrition).

John Doe
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