BY EDRICK BWAMBALE
Uganda’s dream of reducing poverty through increased food production may go up in smoke due to the unpredictable weather patterns. We might all have noticed that the seasons for growing crops have changed drastically.
In most parts of Uganda, rains now come later than expected and when they come, they are so destructive that they damage food production and the livelihoods of farmers.
What is climate change?
Every day, the sun, which is the main source of earth’s energy, emits rays of light to the earth’s surface. The earth absorbs part of the heat from the rays and reflects a large part into the atmosphere.
Some of the rays reflected into the atmosphere are infrared rays. These are cushioned by the clouds and water vapour, which stabilizes the earth’s temperature.
Today, there is increased human activity, which has increased the concentration of greenhouse gases. These are gases that trap infrared rays reflected by the earth into the atmosphere and they include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Their capacity to regulate the earth’s heat has been compromised by increased human activity, which has resulted into rising temperature and a change in weather patterns around the globe.
Increased temperatures also mean more crop pests and diseases and this, coupled with irregular rains may result in total crop failure and famine in many parts of Uganda.
Managing climatic change
Climate change is a global issue. In order to protect Uganda’s large farming population, strategies that combine both indigenous and scientific research should be employed.
An example of such strategies is growing crops that are able to withstand drought for longer periods. This may mean going against traditionally accepted foods in some areas. It is helpful to select and grow disease-resistant varieties.
The use of intercropping patterns that help conserve water is also a good option. An example is the maize-bean combination.
It is also advisable to practice conservation agriculture where farming is done with minimum disturbance on the soil surface to help conserve the water.
Evidently, it is wise to avoid blind investment in just any crop. Areas that were good for bananas 20 years ago may now only be good for sorghum. And Ugandan farmers now have to embrace irrigation in order to harvest two crops in a year.
With our forests disappearing due to excessive logging and charcoal burning, one has to be careful about what one chooses to plant and where.So be informed and proactive in combating climate change effects.