Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Climate Variability and Crop Production in Uganda

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Climate Variability and Crop Production in Uganda

Article excerpt


In this paper, the relationship between climate variation and crop output in Uganda for the period 1981 to 2008 is examined. The time-varying ARCH model of the crop production function is used to estimate the relationships. Analysis of the incidence of rainfall and temperature variation from the long-term average indicates that it is insignificant. Estimates of the trend of rainfall and temperature suggest a gradual decline in volume of rainfall and record of temperatures in Uganda in the present and near future. ARCH model estimates show that a variation in rainfall and temperature from the long-term mean has significant effects on crop output, while exponential increase in rainfall has detrimental effect on crop output. It is recommended that the government should support farmers to adopt small-scale irrigation systems; and capacity of weather forecast agencies should be strengthened to monitor and educate the public on present and potential near-future climate variations.

Keywords: climate change, climate variability, agriculture, smallholders, Uganda

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1. Introduction

Climate change is widely recognised as a major threat to agricultural production and productivity in Uganda as in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the National Development Plan (NDP) and Development Strategy and Investment Plan (DSIP), the direct and indirect impact of climate change on agriculture is pervasive, and if not well managed, may be catastrophic to the economy (Government of Uganda [GoU], 2010; Ministry Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries [MAAIF], 2010). The DSIP mentions low crop output and yield as one of the major likely consequences of climate change due to crop destruction by extreme climate events such as floods, storms and drought; loss of farm land and soil nutrients to erosion; and increased incidences of pests and diseases.

Besides agricultural production, climate change which manifests mainly through drastic changes in long term (LT) (Note 1) mean weather (rainfall and temperate) conditions has significant effects on food availability and access through breakdown of the supply infrastructure systems by floods (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation [FAO], 2008). Yet, studies on climate change and its impacts on Uganda's economy in general and food security in particular are limited. Nonetheless, even the existing studies on climate change in Uganda (Oxfam, 2008; Hepworth & Goulden, 2008) focus more on explaining the likely impact of climate change without providing an adequate explanation of the very existence of climate change. Besides, policy documents such as the NDP and DSIP allude to but do not provide adequate information on the occurrence and extent of climate change. While the climate change is a long-term phenomenon, Oxfam use qualitative interviews to explain the impact of climate change in Uganda while Asiimwe and Mpuga (2007) use pooled cross-sectional data to examine effect of rainfall shocks on household income and consumption in Uganda. Although these studies generate interesting findings, they do not address the direct relationship between climate variability and crop output.

This paper addresses the shortcomings in analytical literature about climate change in Uganda by using a relatively longer time-series data on rainfall and temperature to analyse magnitude and incidence of climate variability in Uganda and its associated impact on agricultural production. The data allows for the estimation of the cyclical trend of rainfall and temperature occurrence, which affords the prediction of the likely trend of rainfall and temperature in the near future. Specifically the paper seeks to assess the magnitude of rainfall and temperature variation over the past three decades; examine the cyclic pattern of rainfall and temperature variation; and establish the effect of rainfall and temperature variation on crop production. …

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