Managing Climate Risks For Coffee In Uganda


sales geneva;”>Uganda Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) in collaboration with the local Makerere University and International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) launched a six-month pilot project on April 5, to integrate climate change adaptation and associated risk management into sectoral and national strategies.

According to Gant Daily, Uganda, whose economy largely depends on rain-fed crops grown by smallholders, such as coffee, tea and cotton, is vulnerable to climate change.

Climate change is expected to increase the prevalence of pests and diseases and cause unpredictable weather such as more frequent droughts, intense flooding and higher temperatures. There may also be climate-related impacts on infrastructure that affect coffee higher up the value chain. Managing these risks is “key to development planning,” says the article.

While value chain development is crucial to the growth of agricultural commodities, little work has been done to understand the impact of climate risks along the levels of value chains.

It is hoped this project can be expanded to other agricultural value chains recognizing that climate change will have far-reaching effects across agricultural, administrative and economic sectors.

According to Norman Ojamuge, MTIC senior commercial officer, climate change is a multi-sector challenge, which calls for concerted efforts of not only the environment sector, but also the trade sector.

A separate 2013 study, Climate Risk Management for Sustainable Crop Production in Uganda, noted: “There is a need to understand how climate risks are distributed and transmitted (or not) among all the stakeholders of value chains (not just at production level) to identify solutions that benefit all actors along the value chain and opportunities for investments.”

Incorporating climate change into agriculture will mean that “there will be a coherent and thorough integration of climate change adaptation and the associated disaster risk management agendas and structures into sectoral and national strategies,” said Betty Namwagala, the executive director of the Uganda Coffee Federation.

Climate risks facing coffee production in Uganda include the increased prevalence of pests and diseases. For example, coffee leaf rust has been reported in many arabica coffee growing areas, with the black twig borer pest emerging as a threat in robusta coffee growing areas.

“Water stress in the dry season affects the physiological activity of the arabica plant, causing a reduction in photosynthesis,” explained Namwagala.

“Some farmers have lost their plantations and lives to landslides that are attributed to climate change. Some areas that depend on rain-fed agriculture may sometimes require irrigation, however, they cannot afford irrigation or access to sources of water that can support irrigation,” she added.

David Mafabi, a coffee farmer in the eastern Uganda district of Mbale, said: “Coffee production depends on nature. We suffer if there is too much [rain] or drought. As a result of drought, coffee does not mature well, and the harvest will be disappointing.”

However, at present, some of strategies being used to minimize the negative impacts of climate hazards on coffee production include the breeding and selection of more disease-resistant and drought-tolerant varieties.

Through the UCDA, coffee farming is also being introduced into new areas, especially in northern Uganda, to boost production and to test potential growing locations.

Coffee farmers are adopting best practices such as crop diversification, intercropping and agro forestry. Still, further support in managing climate risk is still needed.

According to Julie Karami Dekens, IISD’s project manager for climate change and energy, “Further studies are required assess the economic impacts of climate hazard[s] on coffee production.

It is difficult to differentiate the costs associated with the impacts of climate risk on coffee production from that of other factors, such as reduced soil fertility and mismanagement, which also contribute to reduce coffee production in Uganda


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