Climate & Agriculture

Cooler than you’d imagine

Uganda sits on the equator and daylight is nearly always 12 hours. However, temperatures are not as hot as you’d think.

Tea plantation

Tea plantationIn this video… women are working the land at a tea plantation, taking a lot of care cultivating the plants.

The tropical climate is moderated by frequent cloud cover, high altitude – most of the land lies over 1,000m – and in some areas, by the presence of huge lakes. Maximum daily temperatures therefore average between 25°C and 32°C across the various regions.

Rainfall patterns vary greatly in different parts of the country. In the south, there are two rainy seasons – from March to May and September to November. But in the north-east, the wet months tend to merge into one long rainy season.

While much of the land is moist and green, receiving 1000-2000mm of rainfall, parts of the dry north-west have as little as 100mm.

Common crops

Foods for the domestic market

The most common foods grown for local consumption are plantains, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, maize, millet, bananas, potatoes and groundnuts/peanuts.

Uganda has very fertile soils, particularly around Lake Victoria.

Coffee is grown as the main export, with tobacco and tea the next highest-earning agricultural products.

Cocoa beans, palm oil and sugar cane are also key cash crops for the country’s farmers.

Plantains are a member of the banana family. But unlike the sweet variety (sometimes called the ‘dessert banana’), plantain banana fruits are normally harvested green or unripe. They are then cooked as a starchy food, like pasta or potatoes.

Sugar in the cane

The sugar content of sugar cane varies from one area to another. In Uganda, it is around 9%. The country’s mills therefore have to process 1.11 million tonnes of cane to produce 100,000 tonnes of sugar.

The demand for sugar

Because of Uganda’s growing economy and rising population, the demand for sugar is going up. The country’s farmers produce 300,000 tonnes of sugar each year, but this is not enough to satisfy local needs. Therefore even with its own sizeable industry, sugar is currently imported from places such as South Africa.

There is also a shortage of sugar across the East African region as a whole and prices for the commodity remain buoyant. So you’d think the farmers would be happy. But for all their work and time spent growing sugar cane (around 600 days), Ugandan farmers receive only a quarter of the money made from sugar.

Most of the revenue from sugar cane goes to the mills which process the cane and also into government taxes and duties. To see more about how sugar is grown and processed in Uganda, watch the sugarcane video.