Research Articles

Characterising agrometeorological climate risks and uncertainties: Crop production in Uganda

Drake N. Mubiru, Everline Komutunga, Ambrose Agona, Anne Apok, Todd Ngara
South African Journal of Science | Vol 108, No 3/4 | a470 | DOI: | © 2012 Drake N. Mubiru, Everline Komutunga, Ambrose Agona, Anne Apok, Todd Ngara | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 October 2010 | Published: 23 March 2012

About the author(s)

Drake N. Mubiru, National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda
Everline Komutunga, National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda
Ambrose Agona, National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda
Anne Apok, National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda
Todd Ngara, Risoe National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Denmark


Uganda is vulnerable to climate change as most of its agriculture is rain-fed; agriculture is also the backbone of the economy, and the livelihoods of many people depend upon it. Variability in rainfall may be reflected in the productivity of agricultural systems and pronounced variability may result in adverse impacts on productivity. It is therefore imperative to generate agronomically relevant seasonal rainfall and temperature characteristics to guide decision-making. In this study, historical data sets of daily rainfall and temperature were analysed to generate seasonal characteristics based on monthly and annual timescales. The results show that variability in rainfall onset dates across Uganda is greater than the variability in withdrawal dates. Consequently, even when rains start late, withdrawal is timely, thus making the growing season shorter. During the March–May rainy season, the number of rainy days during this critical period of crop growth is decreasing, which possibly means that crops grown in this season are prone to climatic risks and therefore in need of appropriate adaptation measures. A time-series analysis of the maximum daily temperature clearly revealed an increase in temperature, with the lower limits of the ranges of daily maximums increasing faster than the upper limits. Finally, this study has generated information on seasonal rainfall characteristics that will be vital in exploiting the possibilities offered by climatic variability and also offers opportunities for adapting to seasonal distribution so as to improve and stabilise crop yields.


Uganda; climate risks; crop production; seasonal characteristics; agrometeorological


Total abstract views: 1856
Total article views: 3102


Komutunga ET, Musiitwa F. Climate. In: Mukiibi JK, editor. Agriculture in Uganda, Volume 1, General Information. Kampala: Fountain Publishers, 2001; p. 21–32.

Ojacor FA. Introduction and organization. In: Mukiibi JK, editor. Agriculture in Uganda, Volume 1, General Information. Kampala: Fountain Publishers, 2001; p. 1–20.

Mubiru DN, Agona A, Komutunga E. Micro-level analysis of seasonal trends, farmers’ perception of climate change and adaptation strategies in eastern Uganda. Paper presented at: International Conference on Seasonality; 2009 Jul 08–10; Brighton, UK. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; 2009. Available from:

Ogallo LA, Boulahya MS, Keane T. Applications of seasonal to interannual climate prediction in agricultural planning and operations. Int J Agric For Met. 2002;103:159–166.

Government of Uganda. Climate change: Uganda National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPA). Kampala: Environmental Alert, GEF, UNEP; 2007.

Jennings S, Magrath J. What happened to the seasons? [homepage on the Internet]. c2009 [cited 2009]. Available from:

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Climate change and food security: A framework document. Rome: FAO/United Nations; 2008.

Tadross M. Study on the impact of climate change on disaster risk in Mozambique. Synthesis Report. Maputo: National Institute for Disaster Management; 2009.

Phillips J, McIntyre B. ENSO and interannual rainfall variability in Uganda: Implications for agricultural management. Int J Climatol. 2000;20:171–182.<171::AID-JOC471>3.0.CO;2-O

Ogallo LJ. Relationships between seasonal rainfall in East Africa and the Southern Oscillation. J Climatol. 1988;8:31–43.

Mutai CC, Ward MN, Coleman AW. Towards the prediction of the East Africa short rains based on sea-surface temperature-atmosphere coupling. Int J Climatol. 1998;18:975–997.<975::AID-JOC259>3.3.CO;2-L

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Summary for policy makers. Geneva: IPCC. Available from:

Thornton PK, Van de Steeg J, Notenbaert A, Herrero M. The impacts of climate change on livestock and livestock systems in developing countries: A review of what we know and what we need to know. Agric Systems. 2009;101:113–127.

Phillips JG, Cane MA, Rosenzweig C. ENSO, seasonal rainfall patterns and simulated maize yield variability in Zimbabwe. Agric For Meteorol. 1998;90:39–50.

Hansen JW, Mason SJ, Liqiang S, Tall A. Review of seasonal climate forecasting for agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Expl Agric. 2011;47(2):205–240.

Government of Uganda. Agricultural production zones of Uganda: A plan for modernization of agriculture. Report 1. Kampala: Government of Uganda; 2004.

Basalirwa C. Rain-gauge network designs for Uganda. MSc dissertation, Nairobi, University of Nairobi, 1991.

GenStat Discovery. Version 3. Hemel Hempstead: VSN International; 2010.

Anderson IMA, Robinson WI. Karamoja livelihood programme (KALIP): Technical Reference Guide. Kampala: EU/ GOU/ FAO; 2009.

Ouma OG. Use of satellite data in monitoring and prediction of rainfall over Kenya. MSc dissertation, Nairobi, University of Nairobi, 2000.

Ogallo LA, Chillambo AW. The characteristics of wet spells in Tanzania. E Afr Agric For J. 1982;47:87–95.

Ogallo LA. Rainfall variability in Africa. Mon Weath Rev. 1979;107:1133–1139.<1133:RVIA>2.0.CO;2

Drought Monitoring Centre, Nairobi (DMCN). Proceedings of the 1st Capacity Building Training Workshop for the Greater Horn of Africa; 1999 Feb 11–15; Nairobi, Kenya. Nairobi: DMCN, 1999; p. 135–138.

GAD Climate Predictions and Applications Centre (ICPAC). Proceedings of the Statistical Climate Prediction Workshop; 2003 Aug 10–23; Nairobi, Kenya. Report 07/02/12/2003. Nairobi: DMCN/ICPAC, 2003; p. 105–106.

Okoola REA. Space time characteristics of the ITCZ over equatorial Eastern Africa during anomalous years. MSc dissertation, Nairobi, University of Nairobi, 1996.

Ogallo LA. The spatial and temporal patterns of the East African seasonal rainfall derived from principle component analysis. Int J Climatol. 1989;9:145–167.

Zhi-Ping Y, Pao-Shin C, Schroeder T. Predictive skills of seasonal and annual rainfall variations in the USA affiliated Pacific Islands: Canonical correlation analysis and multivariate principal component regression approaches. J Climatol. 1997;10:2586–2599.<2586:PSOSTA>2.0.CO;2

Camberlin P, Okoola RE. The onset and cessation of the ‘long rains’ in Eastern Africa and their interannual variability. Theor Appl Climatol. 2003;75:43–54.

Kizza M, Rodhe A, Chong-Yu X. Temporal rainfall variability in the Lake Victoria basin in East Africa during the twentieth century. Theor Appl Climatol. 2009;98:119–135.

The soils of Karamoja District, Northern Province of Uganda. In: Wilson JG. The Republic of Uganda. Memoirs of the Research Division. Series 1 – Soils Volume II. Kampala: Government of Uganda; 1960.

Musiitwa F, Komutunga ET. Agricultural systems. In: Mukiibi JK, editor. Agriculture in Uganda, Volume 1, General Information. Kampala: Fountain Publishers, 2001; p. 220–230.

Reader Comments

Before posting a comment, read our privacy policy.

Post a comment (login required)


Crossref Citations

1. Characterising agricultural holdings in Uganda: Inputs to improving policy formulation
Ariel Telleria Juarez Roberto, Tusiime Maxmillian
Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics  vol: 15  issue: 1  first page: 11  year: 2023  
doi: 10.5897/JDAE2022.1368