• Authored By: Jude Sebuliba
30 Apr 2024

In recent years, Uganda has been grappling with the adverse effects of changing climate seasons. This has mainly been in the form of unbearable heat waves (climbing temperatures), droughts, declining rainfall, or erratic rainfall, leading to frequent busting of rivers, mudslides, and landslides.

The most vulnerable sector is agriculture, where more than 80% of the labor force is living on weakening agricultural land that is primarily rain-fed, vulnerable to severe climatic changes, and at risk of depleted harvests that can cause hunger and poverty. Climate change puts people’s lives at risk by undermining development and creating shortages of necessities like food and water.

The irregular rainfall patterns have disrupted planting and harvesting seasons, affecting crop yields and the overall agricultural calendar. Farmers, who once relied on a predictable climate to plan their agricultural activities, now face uncertainty, making it difficult to optimize their production.

In some parts, rising temperatures and reduced soil moisture have resulted in decreased crop productivity. Conversely, increased rainfall in certain regions has led to soil erosion and flooding, further compromising agricultural output. These variations in climate conditions make it challenging for farmers to predict and plan for successful harvests, thereby threatening food security and the livelihoods of countless farmers.

Investment returns from agriculture are highly sensitive to the realization of rainfall, which is itself highly unpredictable. Owing to this variability in rainfall, the realised profitability from investment always deviates from what was expected. This makes it very difficult for farmers to estimate the returns on investment in rain-fed agriculture.

Changing climate conditions have led to increased variability in crop yields across different regions of Uganda. Crops that were traditionally well-suited to specific climatic conditions are now facing challenges as these conditions evolve. Staple crops like maize, beans, and cassava are particularly vulnerable to the changing climate, affecting the livelihoods of many farmers who depend on these crops for sustenance and income.

And in the changing climate, warmer temperatures may enable some species of pests to have more generations each year, extend the period over which they are active, or extend their distribution range.

How can farmers be helped?

Improving the quality and quantity of national weather and climate information. Weather forecasting provides evidence for reliable forecasts, which then inform planting, harvesting, and other decisions. This can be done by investing in national weather infrastructure and climate-smart technologies, such as weather forecasting systems and early warning systems, to help farmers anticipate and adapt to changing weather conditions.

Training programs and capacity-building initiatives can be implemented to equip farmers with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the evolving climate challenges. This training provides farmers with the skills and knowledge needed to understand, assess, and manage climate risks and adopt new practices and technologies.

Further, there is a need for efforts targeting the promotion of climate-resilient agricultural practices, introducing drought-resistant crop varieties, and improving water management systems. This will allow the flourishing of agroforestry practices, agriculture conservation, sustainable land management, and soil fertility, and water retention.

Additionally, there is a need to support farmers and communities to better manage unpredictable weather patterns and maximize the resources they do have by connecting them with mobile technology to connect them to critical information—weather updates, crop prices, e-learning. All these helps them make informed choices on when to plant and sell and how to treat their crops and animals.

Photo Credit: Daily Monitor

Farmers need to be linked with banking services, such as loans and savings, as well as products. There is a need to offer affordable crop insurance programs, which can help them protect farmers against climate-related failures and build a financial safety net.

The government needs to work with local people to strengthen and adapt their local market systems and secure economies that can thrive in a changing climate. This includes introducing new, locally produced agricultural supplies, such as drought-resistant seeds and drip irrigation.

There is also a need to learn from previous shocks; this helps to decrease the risk of further damage in the event of a recurrence and equips locals with knowledge on how to respond in the event of another disaster.

In the flood-high-risk districts of Kasese, Katakwi, Amuria, Kampala, Buteleja, Ironko, Bududa, Manafa, Moyo, Nabilatuk, Kumi, Ntoroko, Bulambuli, and Ngora. There is a need to prepare for future flooding by developing early warning systems, evacuation routes,

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