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
  • BBP Research Projects
  • Key Achievements

This programme handles three critical research areas; genetic resources conservation, biological control and biotechnology tools applications to agricultural development in Uganda. The programme


Plant genetic resources :  are one of the most important assets for achieving Uganda’s development goals including poverty eradication, food security, medical and industrial advancement. They are hence a key ingredient in the nation’s transformation process. These resources are however threatened by expanding human activity like agriculture, herbal industry, deforestation and mining but also climate change leading to loss of precious plant diversity. There is strategic need to secure, study and make readily available these resources for sustainable use.

Biological control as an environmentally safer option of managing crop pests and disease vectors: The use of biological agents as an alternative to chemical pesticides to control insect pests, vectors, plant diseases and noxious weeds in crop production systems is an area we are already taking very seriously. Use of synthetic chemical pesticides in intensive crop production has caused socio-economic problems. There are increasing reports of pesticide resistance and residue in export commodities. Some of the problems related to pests and diseases can only be effectively tamed through application of biotechnological tools to improve the commodities or contain the causal organisms thereby increasing prospects for food and income security in Africa.

Biotechnology refers to the exploitation of biological resources in a wide range of novel processes to modify living organisms for products and services needed for human use. Biotechnology tools for plant disease testing, tissue-culture and genetic transformation are being developed to enhance agricultural production in areas where traditional methods have not been successful. The development of enzyme and DNA based testing methods in for crop diseases; plant tissue culture systems for a range of crops such as banana, coffee, potato, and high value spices have been

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Project 1. Conservation, enhanced management and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources

 Specific expected outputs:

Plant genetic resources sustainably conserved and utilized

 The potential of key plant genetic resources for economic benefit in Uganda including food, pharmaceaticals and crop improvement documented and promoted

In-situ conservation of crop diversity through the development os community seed banks and use of variety mixtires in reducing pest challneges on farm developed

Major traits, molecular markers and genes for resistance to environmental stress (temperature, moisture), disease, pest resistance and other productivity and nutrition improvements in plant genetic resources

Project 2 : Development and promotion of biocontrol and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems for control of major pests, plant diseases and noxious weeds for increased productivity, novel products and environmental protection.

Specific expected outputs:

Entomopathogens and insect spp. for insect pest control in maize, rice, cassava and citrus.

Novel IPM and bio-control strategies for management of the mango fruit flies and false codling moth (FCM) in capsicum (hot pepper).

Bio-control systems for management of invasive plant species such as the water hyacinth, Salvinia molesta (Kariba weed) and Parthenium hyterophorus

Conservation and evaluation of microbial and insect genetic resources through a functional microbial collection and insect museum at NARL 

Project 3: Development and promotion biotechnology approaches that enhance productivity and quality of plants and microbial products

Specific expected outputs:

Molecular  biology tools that enhannce the utilisation of crop and microbial resources including t ools for detecting pathogens

Transgenic ground nuts with resistance to a flatoxin causing Aspergillus and Fusarium species

In-Vitro collection, cryopreservation, regeneration, cell and tissue culture systems and  transformation systems for important genetic resources in Uganda

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Key achievements

National Plant Genetic Resource conservatory (genebank and botanical garden) with 4700 accessions of 510 species

National Plant Genetic Resource Policy and Strategy

Three community seed banks in Kabwohe, Nakaseke and Rubaya

Biological control of the cereal stem borer (Busseola fusca) with egg parasitoids

Mango fruit fly integrated pest management 

Plant transformation systems for millet, groundnut and passionfruit

Low cost tissue culture protocols and procedures to enhance the seed system of banana, coffee, and other high value crops

Tissue culture for domestication of two native medical plants and a seed system

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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


Hosted Institutions