The Impact of Climate Change on Coffee in Uganda: Lessons from a case study in the Rwenzori Mountains

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Coffee is a major cash crop in Uganda, but research shows that the smallholder farmers who produce 90% of it could have their already vulnerable livelihoods made more vulnerable by climate change. Oxfam
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  OXFAM RESEARCH REPORTS APRIL 2013 Oxfam Research Reports  are written to share research results, to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy and practice. They do not necessarily reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam. For more information, or to comment on this report, email research@oxfam.org.uk  THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON COFFEE IN UGANDA Lessons from a case study in the Rwenzori Mountains LAURENCE JASSOGNE PETER LÄDERACH PIET VAN ASTEN  A coffee farmer in the Rwenzori Mountains Photo: ©Tanzanite  2 The Impact of Climate Change on Coffee in Uganda EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Coffee is a major cash crop in Uganda accounting for about 20  – 30% of foreign exchange earnings. Smallholder farmers whose average farm sizes range from 0.5 to 2.5 ha produce 90% of Uganda’s coffee. The livelihoods of these smallholder coffee farmers are very vulnerable and studies have shown that climate change can increase this vulnerability even further. This project aims at understanding the potential impact of climate change on coffee-based livelihoods. We focused this study on Arabica coffee ( Coffea Arabica ), since this requires a rather cool tropical climate that is only found in high altitude areas. In Uganda, Arabica is predominantly found above 1400 m and this altitude threshold would move up hundreds of meters   if temperatures rise. First, the suitability for Arabica coffee in Uganda was mapped together with a projection of areas suitable for Arabica in 2030 and 2050. Then, a study of farmer  s’  perceptions was carried out in Kasese (western Uganda) where farmers from two sites were interviewed individually and in groups. The sites were selected based on altitude following the climate analogues principle. The idea of a climate analogue is that you can understand the future climate and adaptation requirements of a site by moving down the slope where temperatures are higher. Travelling down the slope is then like travelling into future climates. The climate change mapping showed that areas suitable for growing Arabica coffee will reduce drastically in the future. Future production losses induced by climate change are estimated to reach tens of millions of US$ annually. Adaptation strategies will be necessary if coffee is still to be grown in the areas where suitability has declined. The lower altitude areas (<1300m) appear completely unsuitable in the future under the current practices (i.e., using current varieties and with limited use of water conservation and shade technologies). Farmers in Kasese perceived that droughts were becoming longer, rainfall during the rainy season was becoming more erratic, and that the rains were shorter. This impacted the coffee at flowering stage (i.e., abortion of flowers); at the filling of the berries stage (i.e., poor filling); and therefore negatively impacted coffee yield in general. Furthermore, certain pests and diseases (e.g. leaf miners, coffee berry borers, mealy bugs, and leaf rust) seem to be increasing. Leaf rust also seems to be more present in the lower site, suggesting that its incidence will increase at higher altitudes as climate changes.  An adaptation strategy that is already locally used by farmers is adding shade in the coffee systems. Shade can reduce temperatures in the coffee canopy by up to 2°C. Shade trees or shade crops like bananas have benefits both in the long term for farmers as they help to adapt the systems to increasing temperatures. At the same time, they also give short-term benefits to farmers by providing additional food and income. For an adaptation strategy to be adopted by smallholder farmers, such short-term benefits are a prerequisite. However, a downside is that adding shade or shade crops to a coffee system increases competition among the different plants for water, nutrients, and light. This competition needs to be managed by using good agronomic practices (e.g. integration of fertilizers and organic nutrient inputs, soil and water conservation practices) in order to adapt successfully to climate change. We conclude with some considerations and recommendations that could be taken up by the Ugandan coffee sector in order to go some way to adapting coffee production to climate change. Without adaptation, the financial impacts on Uganda’s economy as temperatures rise will mount up; and in particular, large numbers of relatively poor smallholder farmers, who very much depend on coffee for their livelihoods, will suffer disproportionate impacts and risk falling further into poverty.  The Impact of Climate Change on Coffee in Uganda 3  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This study was funded by OXFAM in Uganda and supported and executed by IITA-Uganda. The suitability mapping was done in collaboration with CIAT-Colombia, with thanks to Peter Lä derach’s research team. The collaboration between IITA and CIAT on climate change and coffee production systems received support from the CGIAR program on Climate Change,  Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS). It is within this context that national partners from across East Africa (i.e., from Ethiopia down to Zimbabwe) contributed data needed to derive the algorithms for the Arabica coffee suitability mapping. Contributions to the report structure and content were received with thanks from our Oxfam colleagues Anthony Wolimbwa (CAN-U), Charlie Kabanga, Marten Mylius, and John Magrath. Oxfam further organized a critical but very constructive review of the science presented in this report by Reading University in the UK  –  thanks to Josh Hooker for his invaluable comments. Oxfam organized the media team from Tanzanite Visual Media to turn the key findings of this report into a short video documentary. We would also like to acknowledge Brian McDonald and Brenda Onyutta for joining during field visits and surveys, which would make this study relevant for the general public and policy makers. The results of this report were discussed and presented to several Uganda coffee stakeholders. Thanks to Dr Africano Kangire and his team at COREC for their contributions. We would also like to acknowledge the input from the Neumann Stiftung (HNRS) and Café Africa. Finally, our sincere appreciation to Ibrahim Wanyama, David Mukasa, and Daniel Ikaaba from IITA for their assistance in organizing the field data collection with support from UCDA’s Robert Ssekasala. We would also like to thank David Senyojo and Masereka Ezekel from HN RS’ Kasese Program.  4 The Impact of Climate Change on Coffee in Uganda INTRODUCTION Many studies have predicted that climate change will have a massive impact on the coffee- growing regions of Uganda (AFCA, 2012). As coffee is Uganda’s largest export product, generating approximately 20% of the foreign exchange earnings, climate change will result in a negative impact on the national economy (UCDA, 2012). The foreign exchange value of coffee in Uganda has risen from over US$250m in 2010 to an estimated US$480m in 2012.  Approximately 40% of the coffee export value is generated by Arabica but significant inter-annual variations occur depending on crop yields and price fluctuations. Next to coffee being so important for the national economy, its production also relies on smallholder farmers; a population group that has been identified as the most vulnerable to climate change (Morton, 2007). In Uganda there are officially 500 000 smallholder coffee farmers, 90% of whose average farm size ranges from less than 0.5 ha to 2.5 ha. The coffee industry employs over 3.5 million families through coffee-related activities (UCDA, 2012). The famine early warning systems network (FEWSNET) (2012) showed in a study on climate change in Uganda that both spring and summer rains had decreased during the past 25 years. Cropping regions in the west and northwest appeared most affected by the observed changes in climate. Furthermore, rainfall decline in the west and northwest threatened Uganda’s future food production prospects. The warming temperatures could be already adversely affecting coffee production, and rapid population growth and the expansion of farming and pastoralism under a drier and warmer climate regime could dramatically increase the number of at-risk people in Uganda during the next 20 years. The FEWSNET (2012) d ata indicate that farmer’s perceptions are grounded in the reality of changing temperature and rainfall patterns. However, there are also differences between perceptions of climate change and climatic data, which have been studied by Osbahr et al. (2011) in southwest Uganda. It was found that although farmers perceived changes in seasonality, distribution, amount, intensity, and temperature, only temperature had a very clear signal in the climate record. The climate record agreed to a lesser extent with fa rmers’ views that the first rainy season  (between March and May) had become more variable and less reliable than the second season (between September and December). This is in accordance with a climate study in Uganda by Mubiru et al. (2012), which showed that the onset of rains in the March  – May season were delayed for as many as 30 days (with rains starting currently in mid-April). However, the timing of rainfall cessation had more or less stayed the same, regardless of the time of onset of rainfall. Consequently, even when rains started late, withdrawal was timely, making the growing season shorter. In contrast, onset and cessation of the October   – December season were less variable within stations and more uniformly distributed at most locations. At stations experiencing a unimodal rainfall regime, the average onset of rains was also quite stable. On a monthly scale, there seemed to be a decreasing trend in the number of rainy days during the critical months of crop growth in the March  – May season, making crops grown in this season prone to climatic risks; hence, in need of adaptation measures. The average daily maximum and minimum temperature trends revealed an increase in temperature over the 50-year period. However, the lower limits of the ranges of the daily maximum and minimum temperatures were increasing faster than the upper limits. So, day and night temperatures were becoming warmer overall.
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