Much of Uganda’s agriculture is rainfall dependent. However, due to climate change and variability, crop growing seasons have shown more erraticism in onset and length of growing period, often resulting in reduced yields or total crop failure. In response to this, Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) periodically provides seasonal climate forecast. The forecast has been found to be limited in interpretation, understanding and use by stakeholders and consequently with support from GIZ project “THE DEVELOPMENT AND DISEMINATION OF OPTIMUM CROPPING CALENDAR FOR BEANS, MILLET AND MAIZE DERIVED FOR RAIN-FED AGRICULTURE IN FOUR RAINFALL ZONES OF UGANDA” and USAID PROJECT “ENHANCING RESILIENCE OF AGRICULTURAL LIVELIHOODS”, the national Agricultural research organization (NARO) has developed an online cropping calendar tool that would contribute towards stakeholder’s interpretation and understanding of a forecasted season.

The cropping calendar tool is derived from analyzing variability in rainfall onset, cessation and length of the potential crop growing season based on historical time-series data (1961 to 2016) a contribution from UNMA. Seasonal onset and cessation dates and length of cropping season are generated Using INSTAT software. The standard deviation of the generated characteristics then defines the windows of onset and cessation respectively. The difference between the two dates is the potential crop growing period. The analogue year of the forecasted season can be read directly from the tool thus guiding the user on the probable behavior of the forecasted season based on the analogue year.  After the stakeholder receives the forecast from ICPAC and UNMA, then they can use the tool to discern seasonal rainfall performance from the tool.

 The cropping calendar tool therefore helps in interpretation of the forecast by profiling the probable seasonal characteristics of the analogue year and this   helps in climate smart agricultural decision-making. Only three (maize, beans and millet) crops have been used in validating the tool through multi-seasonal rigorous field trials set up in only four rainfall zones of Uganda. It is anticipated that in future more crops and more rainfall zones will be added to tool. 

The tool also provides advisories on crop agronomic management including when to prepare fields, start planting, weeding, apply manure/mulch, harvesting, and post-harvest activities, developed in conjunction with MAAIF.  These advisories are based on agro-meteorological data and information throughout a forecasted season. The tool can be updated regularly on a seasonal scale.

In its current format, the tool is meant to benefit agricultural extension workers, researchers, and large-scale / commercial farmers that can interpret the outputs from the tool for timely farming decisions. It will also help MAAIF to develop advisories for agricultural planning. However, the tool needs continuous piloting and refinement to make it in sync with smallholder farmers’ farming activities.

Key words:  

Optimum cropping calendar for Millet, Maize and beans, Meteorology, climate change, responsive tool, climate smart agriculture and how the meteorology part is linked to crop productivity, yield increase 



  • Programme Overview
  • FBAP Research Projects
  • Key Achievements

About 80% of the Ugandans derive their livelihoods from Agriculture (crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry) and related activities. However, less than 30% of their agricultural produce are value-added into forms desired by consumers. Besides, the rate of migration from rural areas to urban centres is on the increase. It will be a challenge to meet the dietary requirements and demands of these migrants with a multiplicity of culinary food tastes if the food industry is not transformed from of the current status to the 2040 envisioned industrial level. The transformation can only be achieved through research and multi-sectorial development efforts.

FBA plays a vital role in the transformation process as it interfaces between primary agricultural producers and secondary or tertiary processors. The Program addresses researchable issues from farm to fork which include; safety of raw materials and final products, post-harvest handling and primary processing, transformation of raw materials into forms desired by consumers (value-addition), quality assurance systems, and storage options for agricultural produce at different segments of the respective value-chain. In addition, FBA nurtures innovative ideas from researchers into profitable business enterprises that create jobs and increases incomes through her incubation centre.

Currently, the food processing sector in Uganda is severely out-competed by cheap imports, hampered by irregular supply of high quality raw materials and low level of automated mechanization hence inefficient and uncompetitive. During harvest seasons characterized by glut, the post-harvest losses are unacceptably high which are further exacerbated by poor on-farm and en-route handling practices coupled with inappropriate facilities. Consequently, the desired quality attributes of agricultural produce are compromised which undermines the quality of the final products. In highly competitive high-value market space with fastidious consumers, low quality products are uncompetitive and inevitably fetch low prices. As a result, primary producers are caught in a cycle of poverty

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Project 1: Developing products and processes for enhanced nutrition, safety and commercial value of agricultural commodities

Specific expected outputs:

Safe, nutritious and low-cost products with commercializable potential for general and targeted consumers with specific dietary requirements.

Improved food processing systems for optimal utilization of agricultural produce including by-products

Predictive models and low-cost technologies for industrial effluent (waste management)

Project 2 : Development and promotion of technologies and processes that extend shelf life and storability of agricultural produce and their primary products.

Specific expected outputs:

Crop storage options (Storage models/ storage systems that respond to climate change ).

Low cost improved packaging options

Improved pieces of equipment and tools that reduce drudgery along value-chain

Technologies and processes that improve food preservation

Project 3: Development, adoption of technologies and practices that ensure safety of agricultural produce

Specific expected outputs:

Levels of chemical, microbiological and physical contaminants in raw agricultural produce and products.

Information to guide policy formulation on safety and quality of agricultural commodities and demonstration of due diligence in case of legal litigation.

Rapid test kits or protocols for detecting food contaminants and adulterants in foods.


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Project 4: Enhancing commercialization of agricultural research innovations through incubation

Specific expected outputs:

An equipped agri-business incubation center offering services to technology innovators, business incubators and the private sector

Profitable business enterprises from nurtured innovative ideas

A network of satellite incubators in different regions of Uganda

A repository knowledge center for global technology and information

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Novel safe and nutritious products

Storage options and shelf-life prolongation

Safety of agricultural produce and products

Agri-business enhancement through incubation process

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To be a centre of excellence generating and promoting appropriate agricultural technologies


To generate and promote agricultural technologies and improve productivity, value addition, income and food security


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