The central agro-ecological zone is found in central Uganda. It comprises of four agricultural production zones namely Kyoga plains, Lake Victoria crescent, western savannah grasslands and pastoral range lands. The CAEZ covers 20 districts and 1 authority: Kayunga in Kyoga plains; Kampala, Mukono, Wakiso, Mpigi, Masaka, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi, Buvuma, Buikwe, Luwero, Gomba, Mityana, Butambala, and Kalangala, Central Kiboga, Kyankwanzi and Lwengo in the Lake Victoria crescent; Kiboga, South Luwero and Mubende in the western savannah grasslands; and Nakasongola and Nakaseke in the pastoral rangelands.
The CAEZ lies between 00 20N, 32 45E and 651masl and 1200masl. It covers a total land area of 54,175.4 square kilometres, which is 27 percent of Uganda’s total land area. The population is approximately 8.2 million (UBOS 2015). The zone has a tropical climate with a bi-modal rainfall pattern ranging from 915mm to 1,800mm per annum. The driest month is July, with 67 mm of rainfall. In April, the precipitation reaches its peak, with an average of 201 mm. The mean annual rainfall is 1,100mm distributed over 106 rain days, with peaks in March – May and September – November. Temperatures range between 160C and 280C throughout the year (Mukono DDP 2010 – 2015). In recent years, due to climate variability and change, rainfall has been erratic.
Engagement in agriculture sector, particularly at production level is the major economic activity undertaken by most people in the CAEZ. Coffee is the main cash crop while banana, maize and beans are the major staple food crops. There are two main farming systems in the zone; the intensive banana-coffee along the Lake shores and the Western banana-coffee farming system. Most households in the zone continue to produce majorly for home consumption because production and productivity levels are low. However, it should be emphasized that the potential of the zone to have the envisaged comparative and competitive advantage in production, processing and commercialisation of the selected commodities, heavily depends on the quality of the land resource. Being largely an agrarian zone, land is the single most important basic factor of production and it should be managed properly through use of sustainable land management (SLM) technologies.
The land tenure systems in the CAEZ are Mailo, Freehold and Leasehold; some of which limit secure access to land, consequently leading to landlessness and increased pressure on the land resources. The high population densities coupled with poor land use practices has led to land degradation and fragmentation. Particularly in the CAEZ, the most degraded districts are: Mukono (459.5km2), Mubende (239.5 km2), Wakiso (216.4 km2), Mpigi (194.6 km2) and Masaka (96 km2) (UBoS 2013). Figures in parenthesis indicate the land size that is degraded in each of the named districts. Prominently, in Buikwe District the zone used to have the biggest forest in the country (Mabira Forest) but it has been overtaken in size by Budongo Forest because of severe deforestation.
The main SLM challenges in the central agro-ecological zone include: soil erosion, nutrient depletion, population pressure, deforestation, encroachment on marginal lands, poor agronomic practices, sand and stone quarrying, frequent droughts, and seasonal bush fires. However, opportunities to address these challenges exist and they include: existence of organised farmer groups, availability of labour (as a result of high population), proven SLM technologies, and availability of farm implements and complementary agricultural inputs such as improved crop varieties and animal breeds. Additionally, there are seasoned means of scaling up use of SLM technologies, for example, the landscape approach, demonstrations hosted by farmers and schools, farmer-exchange visits, field days, formation of cooperatives and commodity platforms, and Training of Trainers. Another opportunity is that there are on-going interventions for scaling up use of SLM technologies. Notable among them is the SLM subcomponent of the ATAAS project funded by the World Bank. The project is jointly implemented by MAAIF and NARO in collaboration with District Local Governments, OWC/NAADS, UNDP, FAO and Farmers’ groups. Failure to address the aforementioned challenges impacts negatively on land productivity, food security and resilience of communities and landscapes to climate shocks.
Thus, it is important that challenges related to soil fertility, water use efficiency, land resources and biodiversity are effectively addressed, partly through adoption of SLM technologies. In line with promoting use of SLM technologies, we recommend enactment and enforcement of landcare byelaws, awareness creation on appropriate SLM technologies and practices, involvement of local leaders in mobilising communities, formation of cooperatives - they are more viable business entities than groups, and adoption of the Trainer of trainers’ approach.
1. Fred Tabalamule; SLM Specialist, Lake Victoria Crescent AEZ; Tel: +256772325660; Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MuZARDI); email@example.com; Tel:+256 414290232 & +256 414290235; Website: http://www.muzardi.go.ug