Tempreture rise threatens coffee production

A 2013 National Water Resources Assessment report, has warned that the rising temperatures in the country could reduce by 85 per cent of the available land used for growing Robusta coffee.

The report notes that if the temperatures rise up to two centigrade, then, only 15 per cent of the land in the Uganda will be able to produce Robusta coffee.

“..a temperature increase of 2 centigrade would lead to significant losses (up to 85 per cent) of the land that could be used to grow Robusta Coffee. This would have serious consequences as coffee is one of the country’s major export crops,” the report reads in part.

The Global Circulation Models (GCMs) suggests that the mean temperatures will rise by 0.3 to 0.5 centigrade per decade in Uganda. GCM attempts to represent the climate system by calculating the properties of the Earth’s atmosphere.

They also predict an increase in the annual rainfall of 10-20 per cent during the 21 Century and change in rainfall distribution which will increase from December to February and decrease from June to August.

Climate change affects agricultural production through its effects on the rainfall timing, intensity, variability and shifts in temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations. Moisture deficits during the growing season and increase in temperatures results into reduced crop yields leading to food and water shortages.

The report recommends that the country finds ways of increasing agriculture production through irrigating crops, conserving wetlands and tree planting that directly affects rainfall formation in the country.

In some areas, due to prolonged droughts, coffee trees have dried up in the past. This, together with coffee rust disease in some parts of the country, threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of farmers and millions of coffee drinkers.

Coffee rust disease causes coffee tree thin and unproductive and their fruits not to ripe well.
The Principal Information Officer at Uganda Coffee Development Authority, Mr Kizito Mayanja, when contacted for a comment said: “Those predictions have been there for the last 10 years. It is not new,” he said declining to comment further saying he had not yet read the report.

Early this year, a Uganda Coffee Development Authority for the month of March showed that, coffee exports for the period (April 2013 to March 2014) totaled to 3.77 million bags up from the 3.02 million bags exported in the same period last year.

Robusta coffee increased by 12.18 per cent and 1.37 per cent in volume and value respectively while Arabica also posted an increase of 14.44 per cent and 6.59 per cent in volume and value respectively compared to the same period last year 201213.

Climate change effects
•Dr Everline Komutunga, a senior researcher at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro), says climate change has been visible in the country although not munch attentions has been given to it. She says, climate change manifests in floods, prolonged droughts, temperature increases which leads to more pests outbreaks among others which have all been visible in country.

•Former Agriculture minister, Dr Victoria Ssekitoleko, says the government should allow scientists at the Naro to rollout crop seeds that have been researched on to help farmers avoid such crop declines that will have negative impact on rural incomes.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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