Climate Change Is Impacting Production of Beans in Uganda
The common dry bean is an important crop grown and consumed throughout Uganda, where it plays a very significant role in the livelihoods of many resource-poor farm households.
It is a major source of food and income for the rural smallholder farmers, especially women and children, and individuals involved in its retail trade at both national and regional level. The fact that beans are produced in every district not only shows the dependence on them as a major food security crop, but also their importance in the farmers’ household economy. However, its production is being hindered currently by changes in climate.
Beans normally flourish well in temperature ranging from 18-26oC, however, temperatures are getting warmer in some areas and colder in other parts of Uganda. As a result, researchers are developing bean varieties that can withstand heat and cold stresses. In 2016, Uganda’s bean crop experienced some heat stress in a few seasons when the surface temperature shot up to between 28-35oC. This led to low yields with some instances of crop failure where the heat persisted for more than two weeks.
Uganda is currently in mid stages of developing and testing bean varieties that can tolerate variations in heat in areas/regions where we are experiencing increased surface temperature due to reduction in rainfall and drought.
Many bean growing regions in Uganda have two seasons of crop production. The first season (March to June) has the greatest rainfall (720 mm), whereas the second season (August to November) has limited rainfall (560 mm) that rapidly diminishes.
Although this amount of rainfall is more than sufficient for the bean crop, rainfall patterns in Uganda have resulted into a number of bean growing regions receiving less than the anticipated shower, leading to intermittent and at times terminal drought.
As a result, there is a reduction in the soil moisture which ultimately creates crop drought stress leading to serious yield losses. Intermittent and terminal drought is becoming very prominent in the whole country. Since irrigation is unrealistic due to socio-economic constraints, genetic improvement for drought resistance provides the main opportunity to increase the productivity of beans grown.
Breeders in Uganda with their counterparts from Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have developed bean varieties that can tolerate drought, the varieties are in their last stages of testing and will be released soon to help famers overcome this problem.
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