The Dry Spell: A Warning for Uganda’s Food Security

Rhyman Alphred Agaba. PHOTO/COURTESY

Summary:

  • Uganda’s agricultural sector is heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, making it vulnerable to climate shocks. The country has also experienced widespread deforestation, soil degradation, and water scarcity, further exacerbating the crisis.

Uganda is facing an unprecedented dry spell, projected to last from June to August 2024, according to the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA). This dire prediction comes on the heels of a devastating drought in 2022, which left over 2 million people food insecure and 1.4 million livestock dead. The current dry spell is expected to exacerbate the already dire situation, with crop yields projected to decline by up to 70%.

The consequences of inaction will be catastrophic. Food prices have already skyrocketed, with maize prices increasing by 30% in the past quarter alone. This will disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, including smallholder farmers, who rely on rain-fed agriculture and are already struggling to recover from the previous drought.

The root causes of this crisis are clear. Uganda’s agricultural sector is heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, making it vulnerable to climate shocks. The country has also experienced widespread deforestation, soil degradation, and water scarcity, further exacerbating the crisis.

However, there are solutions. Sustainable farming practices like conservation agriculture, agroforestry, and permaculture can improve soil fertility, increase water retention, and reduce erosion. These methods have been successfully implemented in other African countries, such as Malawi and Zambia, and have improved crop yields and resilience.

Moreover, investing in irrigation systems and water harvesting technologies can reduce dependence on rain-fed agriculture. The Ugandan government has committed to increasing investment in irrigation infrastructure, but more needs to be done to support smallholder farmers.

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The international community must also take action. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for urgent support to avert a food crisis in Uganda. Donors must prioritize funding for sustainable agriculture initiatives and humanitarian aid to support affected communities.

The dry spell is a wake-up call for Uganda and the international community to prioritize food security and sustainable agriculture. We must act now to build a resilient food system that can withstand the impacts of climate change. The future of Uganda’s food security depends on it.

The writer Rhyman Alphred Agaba is an Advocacy Officer, Citizens’ Concern Africa (CICOA)

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