8 April 1997


Following dry weather in several parts of the country during the secondary season (October-December), and in view of persistent civil strife in the northern districts which has resulted in displacement of a large number of rural households, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was fielded to Uganda to assess the 1996/97 "short rains" food crop production, forecast the 1997 "long rains" season crop and estimate the grain import and food aid requirements for 1997. The Mission reviewed data and information from various sources including Government, UN agencies, donors and NGOs at central, district and local level. Farmers were interviewed during field visits in different districts. During its assessment the Mission, divided into 3 groups, visited 26 out of 39 districts in all four regions of the country, including the northern districts which are affected by insurgency and substantial displacement of people.

This was the first ever FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Uganda, fielded in response to crop production difficulties faced particularly in several northern districts due to insurgency and in certain parts of north-eastern and eastern districts due to drought and floods. A major difficulty faced was a lack of reliable agricultural statistics. Often statistics collected from districts are widely off those obtained at the central level. Also, data are not maintained by season. Food crops are generally produced in two seasons ("long rains", and "short rains") in which the second season crops are harvested during December of a year to February. However, official data available represent totals for the calendar year. Also, the "short rains" season output is added to the preceding year, although it should be available for consumption and marketing in the succeeding year. In the absence of data by season, the Mission has projected the 1997 aggregate food crop production using certain assumptions.

The Mission found that the 1997 "short rains" food crops were negatively affected by erratic rains during the season, with dry weather in certain parts coupled with floods in others, and by severe infestation of Cassava Mosaic Virus in some areas. In addition, food production was reduced in northern areas by insurgencies which resulted in massive displacement of population in four districts hindering agricultural operations. Plantings of the maize crop were also negatively affected by low prices in 1996. Although strict comparisons are difficult to make due to the lack of sound historical data by cropping season, it is estimated that the overall output of the short rains season was lower than the previous year's level and below average.

In projecting the 1997 "long rains" food crop production, the Mission adjusted the 1996 data from government sources as it found that outputs of some crops, particularly maize, were overestimated, while those of cassava and sweet potato were underestimated.

Based on data from government sources, the 1996 estimated production is 2.076 million tons of cereals, 0.529 million tons of pulses, 5.143 million tons of roots and tubers, and 9.110 million tons of plantains.

The Mission forecasts for 1997 an increased production of roots and tubers but reduced production of all other crops: 1.643 million tons of cereals, 0.512 million tons of pulses, 6.472 million tons of roots and tubers, and 8.940 million tons of plantains. Matching these against estimated human consumption and other uses, there are, in 1997, small surpluses in cereals, root and tubers and plantains but a deficit in pulses.

Given transport difficulties and because of insecurity, commercial movement of food from surplus to deficit areas is often unfeasible. Moreover, the access to food for a large number of people is limited by reduced purchasing power. Hence, people seriously affected by drought and floods, as well as internally displaced people (IDPs), need food assistance despite an apparent satisfactory overall food supply situation. WFP has been buying food in-country as far as possible for its programmes, and it intends to do so in future also. The numbers of people needing food assistance have been estimated at 150 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), and 341 000 flood/drought affected people. The estimated food assistance requirement for 1997 for the two categories is 30 276 tons of cereals and 6 435 tons of non-cereal commodities.

In view of prevailing uncertainty of crop production, particularly in the insurgency-affected north, the situation needs to be kept under constant surveillance, and action taken as the emerging situation calls for.

The early warning unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) needs to be strengthened. And there is an urgent need for a reliable agricultural statistics system to be established. Otherwise, agricultural planning and programming will remain seriously constrained.


[ Sources of data and information for this section include: The Republic of Uganda: Country Position Paper on Food Security , presented to World Food Summit, FAO, Rome, 13-17 November 1996; Government of Uganda (GOU), Ministry of Planning and Economic Developments (MPED), The 1991 Population and Housing Census: Fact Sheet ; GOU, MPED, Background to the Budget 1996-97, June 1996; R.L. Sharer et al; Uganda: Adjustment with Growth 1987-94, IMF. March 1995; World Bank, Uganda: The Challenge of Growth and Poverty Reduction , June 1995.]

Uganda, a landlocked country in eastern Africa, is bounded by Zaire in the west, the Sudan in the north, Kenya in the east and Tanzania and Rwanda in the south. Its total area is 241 038 sq km (24.1 million ha), of which 70 percent is suitable for agriculture. Its climate is tropical with ample rainfall in most parts of the country.

The Ugandan agricultural sector has high potential, but that can be realised only if improved agricultural practices are made available to and adopted by farmers. Some recommendations to that end are given in section VIII of this report.

The estimated mid-1997 population (based on 1991 Population Census) is 20.4 million, of which about 86 percent are in rural areas. Growing at about 2.5 percent per annum, the population is young, with 75 percent below 30 years of age. The population density is still (1997) low at about 85 persons per sq. km, although there are substantial variations.

The Government of Uganda has been pursuing a policy of modernizing the economy within the framework of a market economy and associated macroeconomic reforms. Substantial structural reforms have been implemented since 1987 in the areas of price liberalization, public enterprise reform, financial sector reforms, civil service reforms and demobilization. There has been significant progress in terms of economic stabilization with inflation sharply falling (to an estimated annual average rate of just over 7 percent by 1995-96) and external current account deficit (excluding grants) declining markedly to an estimated 7.9 percent of GDP in 1994/95 and 6.7 percent in 1995-96. The overall budget deficit has also been sharply down in recent years , from 4.3 percent of GDP in 1993-94 to an estimated 1.8 percent of GDP in 1995-96. The balance of payments position continued to improve with a consequent healthy foreign exchange reserve of US$ 606.5 million by April 1996, sufficient for over 5 monthsí imports servicing the external debt, however, it still represents a severe drain on the resources of the economy.

Economic growth also increased sharply in recent years - an estimated annual rate of over 10 percent was achieved in 1994/95 and 8.5 percent in 1995/96. But, Uganda remains one of the poorest countries in the world with an estimated per caput GDP of US$283 (1995/96) at current market prices and US$ 147 at constant 1991 prices. Unemployment is widespread and has even deteriorated in the wake of structural adjustment. Hence, poverty remains rampant. Also, in order to pursue the on-going growth path, the economy remains critically dependent on foreign aid: according to World Bank, foreign debt increased from US$2 097 million in 1990, to US$2 561 million in 1994 and is projected to increase to US$4, 886 million in 2003. Currently, it is about US$3.5 billion.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Ugandan economy, accounting for about 86 percent of the countryís labour force and about 47 percent of the GDP. In 1995, it accounted for about 85 percent of the countryís total merchandise exports - traditional export crops (coffee, cotton, tea, tobacco) contributing 73 percent and non-traditional crops (simsim and cereals - maize in particular) about 12 percent.

Yields are generally low, as little improved seed and virtually no fertilizers are used. Also, land preparation is mostly done by hand. Hence, there is a tremendous potential for agricultural growth, as more land can be brought under cultivation and agricultural practices upgraded in the form of expanded use of improved seed and fertilizer and small tractors. However, agricultural planning and programming are seriously constrained by lack of reliable agricultural statistics. In the medium to longer term, certain measures will need to be taken in order to realize Ugandaís agricultural potential.


Most areas of the country receive generally adequate rainfall, which varies from 500 to 700 mm per annum in the mainly pastoral areas in the north-east, to up to 2 000 mm in the Ruwenzori Mountains in the South West and along the slopes of Mount Elgon in the East. Rainfall is mainly bi-modal, allowing two crops to be grown under rain-fed conditions each year in most districts. In the dry north-east one crop is grown per year. In Kitgum District, one food crop is grown during the long rains from March to June, with a cash crop being grown in the second season.

3.1 Production, 1992-96

Crop production data, as provided by Government sources for 1992 -1996, are reported in Table 1, while production for 1997 projected by the Mission is given in Table 2.

Data shown in Table 1 for a particular calendar year include those pertaining to the long rains season (crops harvested in July-August of the year in question) plus those pertaining to the following short rains season (usually harvested in December of the year to February of the following year). For example: production for 1996 is made up of output harvested during July-August of 1996 and that harvested during December 1996 to February 1997. This practice lacks correspondence with marketing and consumption reality. While the output of the long rains season may be consumed or marketed in the same year, the short rains season production is available for consumption and marketing in the following year. Unfortunately, data are maintained only as shown in Table 1 and, in addition, seasonal distribution is not available. Extensive enquiries were made at central and district levels on the issue of crop production by season, but without avail. A rough distribution is available from the 1990-91 Census of Agriculture, which, however, it has been ascertained, was not properly implemented and , hence, lacks reliability. However, it indicates that, overall, the long rains season accounts for about 70 percent of food crop production, except for cassava and bananas which are produced throughout the year. It is very important that agricultural data are collected and maintained by season.

Discussions with representatives of development agencies, donors, NGOs, government officials and traders indicate that the official data concerning certain crops are overestimates in certain cases and underestimates in others. For example, there was a glut of maize on the market in 1993/94 and prices plunged to $40 per ton or less and farmers lost much money as a result. Farmers consulted by the Mission in many parts of the country stated that they had reduced their maize areas following this price collapse. However, despite this, official figures show an unbroken upward trend in maize area. Traders and WFP report that there is not the same amount of maize in the country as there was in 1994, indicating a drop in area and/or yield. Also the effect of widespread insecurity in the Northern districts of Kitgum and Gulu, and to a lesser extent, Moyo and Arua is a very significant decrease in agricultural production and planted areas. It would appear that these factors are not being taken into account in compiling the official figures. District annual reports received by the Mission did not take this insecurity into account in estimating production. Moreover, while areas under cassava and sweet potato are overestimates, yields are significantly understated.

3.2 1997 Food Crop Production

On the basis of wide ranging discussions, review of available relevant material and crop inspections during its field visits, the Mission offers, in Table 2, a food crop production scenario for 1997. The Mission strongly urges that an in-depth survey/study be undertaken as soon as possible to obtain improved information.

1996/97 Short Rains production

The 1997 "short rains" food crops, harvested from December to January, were negatively affected by (i) erratic rains during the season with dry weather in parts and floods in others , (ii) severe infestation of Cassava Mosaic Virus in certain areas, (iii) insecurity in the Northern region and (iv) reductions in the area planted to maize in response of low prices in earlier years. However, in some areas production was average. Overall, the output is estimated lower than both the previous year's level and that of a normal year. In the Central region, despite erratic rains during the season, cumulative precipitation was adequate and, in general, the food crop was about normal. By contrast, in the Eastern region, late and below normal rains in September, October and December, plus floods in some areas and Cassava Mosaic Virus badly affected the crops in several parts. In the Northern region, insecurity and conflict in four districts caused massive displacement of population, which hindered agricultural activities. This, together with late rains, dry weather and localized floods, resulted in a sharp fall in production. In the Western region, the short rains production was mixed. Heavy precipitation during the season generally benefited developing crops but caused localized floods in parts, while heavy infestations of Cassava Mosaic Virus reduced production in some districts.

1997 Long rains production forecast

To project the 1997 long rains production the Mission assumed that production would remain unchanged from the about normal crop of 1996, reflecting an increase in plantings of cereals in response to higher prices but counteracted by reductions in the area planted in northern parts affected by insecurity. Normal weather conditions were assumed. The production forecast was based in the 1996 official estimates of areas planted and yields which were adjusted to take into account the Mission's review of the situation and findings from its field visits.

Table 1. Uganda Crop Production: 1992-1996 (Area in thousand hectares; yield in kgs/ha; production in Ď000s tons)

1992 1993 1994 1995 1996
Crop Area Yield Prod. Area Yield Prod. Area Yield Prod. Area Yield Prod. Area Yield Prod.
Cereals 1141
1743 1220
1880 1295
1936 1290
2027 1321
Maize 438 1500 657 503 1598 804 563 1510 850 570 1600 912 587 1600 939
Finger Millet 396 1600 634 404 1510 610 412 1480 610 393 1599 628 400 1600 640
Sorghum 252 1488 375 255 1502 383 260 1499 390 265 1500 398 270 1500 405
Rice 50 1360 68 53 1396 74 55 1400 77 57 1404 80 59 1407 83
Wheat 5 1800 9 5 1800 9 5 1800 9 5 1800 9 5 1800 9
Pulses 662
524 694
540 705
495 750
507 779
Beans 536 750 402 552 775 428 557 659 378 597 648 387 621 651 404
Other Pulses 126 968 122 142 789 112 148 791 117 153 784 120 158 791 125
Root Crops 841
5069 869
5417 837
4577 875
4832 910
Cassava 362 8000 2896 369 8507 3139 320 6500 2080 330 6700 2211 347 7000 2429
Sweet Potato 442 4309 1905 460 4257 1958 473 4501 2129 497 4497 2235 512 4500 2304
Irish Potato 37 7243 268 40 8000 320 44 8364 368 48 8050 386 51 8039 410
Plantain 1459 5350 7806 1438 5526 8222
5667 8500 1511 5956 9000 1519 5997 9110

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

Table 2. Mission Estimates of Crop Production, 19971/
Crop Area ('000 Ha) Yield (Kg/Ha) Production
Cereals 1130
Maize 470 1500 705
Finger Millet 360 1500 540
Sorghum 240 1300 312
Rice 55 1400 77
Wheat 5 1800 9
Pulses 705
Beans 580 700 406
Other Pulses 125 850 106
Root Crops 849
Cassava 320 10000 3200
Sweet Potato 480 6000 2880
Irish Potato 49 8000 392
Plantain 1490 6000 8940

1/ Crops harvested in December 1996/February 1997 plus those to be harvested in July-August 1997)

The Mission visited most of the districts in Uganda and discussed the methods used in collecting production statistics. In many areas, particularly in the Northern districts of Gulu, Kitgum , Moyo and Arua, extension staff cannot travel outside the main trading centres due to insecurity. Three extension staff were killed during 1996 in separate incidents. Annual projections are made for increases in production in all districts, but these projections cannot always be achieved, especially in insecure areas. As a result, the Mission believes that figures for cropped area are over-estimates, in the above-mentioned four districts, which are most affected by insecurity.

In relation to maize production, the effects of a glut on the market in 1993/94 have not been taken into account. This glut and the resulting low prices were cited by many farmers met by the Mission as a reason why they reduced their maize production in recent years. During 1994, the price of maize dropped to $40 per ton, or less and farmers reduced their area under this crop in the following years probably to the level of 1992. Despite the reduced area under maize, official estimates of maize area continued to rise annually, by 11 percent in 1994, 1.2 percent in 1995 and an estimated 3 percent in 1996. Despite the apparent rise in maize area, the actual quantity of maize available for sale on the market in recent years has dropped substantially and WFPís purchase contracts in 1996/97 could not all be fulfilled.

As a further indicator of scarcity, the prices for maize, as reported by a major trader, rose during 1996 from $120 per ton early in the year, to $300 per ton by December. This high price should encourage many farmers to plant the crop again and production should rise this year. However, in the insecure districts of the Northern Region, where over 70,000 ha of maize is reported to be grown, production will be sharply down in 1997. Should the insecurity continue in the Kasese and Bushenyi areas, production there could also be adversely affected.

The Mission discounted estimates of planted area and prospective production of cereals, pulses, oil-seeds, bananas and root crops based on the importance of these crops in the insecure districts of Kitgum, Gulu, Moyo and Arua. But, significant increases in yields of cassava and sweet potato and some small adjustment to estimated yields in other cases have been assumed on the basis of interviews with farmers and traders. As the relatively high maize yield of 1.6 tons/ha cannot be sustained throughout the country, with high levels of Maize Streak Virus, low yielding varieties and without fertilizer, the Mission reduced it to 1.5 tons/ha. Yields of cassava and sweet potato, on the other hand, seem rather low at 7 tons/ha and 4.5 tons/ha, respectively, and have been increased to 10 tons/ha and 6 tons/ha respectively. The effect of Cassava Mosaic Virus in reducing yields is well known, but healthy cassava in good soils should be capable of much higher yields. The 1990/91 Census of Agriculture reported cassava yields of 27.2 tons/ha, and sweet potato yields of 8.1 tons/ha, both considerably above current yield estimates. There is a need for a detailed yield survey of all crops.


The Mission visited all four regions and travelled extensively through 26 of the 39 districts, consulting with farmers, farmers associations, locally based staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), UN officials and NGO representatives.

Central Region

The Central Region includes the districts of Kampala, Masaka, Luwero, Mpigi, Sese, Rakai, Mukono and Mubende and Kiboga. Rainfall was below normal in July, August and September in Entebbe. In Luwero, rains came early in July, finding farmers unprepared for them. Subsequent rains were erratic and the season ended earlier than usual in November, adversely affecting late sown crops. Kampala recorded rainfall 27 percent below normal for October. Good rains were recorded all over Central Region in November, while December rains were below normal in many parts of Central Region, apart from Entebbe, which recorded average rainfall for the month.

This region, broadly speaking, is not self sufficient in food production. This is partly due to the large population of the capital, Kampala, but reliance by farmers on cash crops such as vegetables and coffee reduces food production in some rural districts such as Luwero. The widespread incidence of Cassava Mosaic Virus has also reduced food production in recent years. The region produces surplus quantities of banana, peas, groundnuts and potatoes, while there are deficits in production of cassava, beans, maize, sorghum and oil seeds.

Maize production has been declining following very low prices which farmers received after the bumper crop of 1993/94. Storage capacity is also poor on farms, forcing farmers to release maize onto the market immediately after harvest when prices are lowest. Maize is mainly grown for fresh consumption in Luwero District. Banana production is an important activity in Masaka District and the dry conditions which have prevailed since early December have induced ripening, with the result that market prices have dropped considerably. An outbreak of Panama Disease on sweet banana was reported from Luwero, resulting in a yield decline of an estimated 5 -10 percent .

Livestock numbers are also high in Luwero, Mukono, Masaka, Mpigi and Rakai and the generally dry conditions since November have reduced pasture growth. Water availability is not, however, a problem for farmers, who have communal dams or natural water sources. The region produces large quantities of meat, milk, chicken and eggs.

On the whole, the regionís agricultural output in the last short rains season appears to have been average.

Eastern Region

The Eastern Region which borders Kenya comprises the districts of Jinja, Mbale, Iganga, Kamuli, Tororo, Kapchorwa, Kumi, Pallisa and Soroti. It is one of the most highly populated regions of Uganda, with most farmers growing millet, cassava, maize, beans, banana and soya beans. Although the regionís soils and climate permit surplus food production in most years, this potential is under-utilized, due to low levels of agricultural mechanization limiting expansion of cropped area, to poor agricultural technology, with very low usage of improved seeds, fertilizer and other inputs.

With an annual average rainfall varying from 800mm to 1 200mm and a bi-modal rainfall pattern, allowing two crops to be grown each year, the Eastern Region should be food secure. However, rainfall in 1996, with the exception of Kapchorwa District on the slopes of Mount Elgon, was erratic. The second season rains came late, and below normal precipitation caused wilting of maize at the critical flowering stage. Rainfall in Jinja was 59 percent below normal in the first two dekads of September. Rainfall in October was below normal in Soroti (72%) and Jinja (65%), On the other hand, excessive rains were recorded in other places, causing flash flooding and landslides which destroyed crops in the early vegetative stages. The replanted crops were adversely affected by the premature ending of the rainy season. In Jinja, Tororo and Soroti, rainfall was 78%, 75% and 52.%, respectively, below normal during December, 1996. Agricultural production in the recent short rains season has been badly affected in certain parts of the region.

Cassava crops were already damaged by high levels of Cassava Mosaic Virus and this, compounded by poor agricultural practices and by high levels of sales, has led to food shortages in certain areas of the region.

The bulk of agricultural production is from the districts of Iganga, Jinja, Tororo and Mbale in the south of the region. The northern districts of Kumi, Soroti and Kamuli have marginal rains and fairly poor soils best suited to certain cereals and cassava and it is these areas which have suffered most from the adverse weather patterns in 1996 and early 1997.

The Missionís assessment of cross-border trade via Busia and Malaba is that significant quantities of beans, maize and banana were exported to Kenya during the season. The large export trade, combined with low local production, has resulted in significant price increases. For example, maize prices increased by 67 percent over those prevailing in 1995. Cassava prices increased from 100 to 200 Uganda shillings per kilo, while sorghum and millet prices increased by 70 percent and 80 percent, respectively compared to the previous year. The increased prices have encouraged farmers to prepare larger areas of land for the 1997 season and, given adequate rainfall, production of food crops should increase substantially for the long rains season crop.

However, there is still a need for increases in the supply of cassava planting material of cultivars tolerant or resistant to Cassava Mosaic Virus. There is a further need to increase the use of improved varieties of other crops, including maize, sorghum and groundnuts together with appropriate fertilizers.

Northern Region

Northern Region includes nine districts: the agro-pastoral areas of Kotido and Moroto in the East, Kitgum, Apac, Lira and Gulu in the centre and Moyo, Arua and Nebbi across the Albert Nile in the West. Agricultural production has been affected by two major factors in the latter half of 1996: insecurity and, to a lesser extent, adverse weather.

Insecurity and conflict in Kitgum, Gulu, Moyo and Arua have caused massive displacement of populations of these districts in the period since June, 1996.

In Kitgum, the largest district in the country at 16 136 sq. km., a substantial displacement of people has occurred as a result of insecurity. Lamwo County, the most fertile county in Kitgum District, is the one most affected by insecurity and this has resulted in a serious drop in food production. Many of the displaced people had their farmhouses and granaries burnt and are now virtually destitute. Kitgum used to have a large livestock population, estimated at 155 000 cattle in 1986. The present cattle population is now reduced to an estimated 2 262 head as a result of insurgency and rustling. Ox - cultivation used to be common in Kitgum, but now farmers have to use hand labour, resulting in a marked reduction of the productive potential of the district. The sub-counties bordering Kotido District in the east have been badly affected by drought. In Moyo, some farmers can go back at some risk to themselves, to collect food items which were not destroyed.

Cropping patterns vary considerably within the Northern Region, with the mainly pastoralist Karamojong people only having one major food crop, sorghum, which is sown in April and harvested in August. The rains were delayed in 1996 and this dry period was followed by torrential rains which caused crop damage. As a result, sorghum production in the Karamoja areas has been adversely affected. In Kitgum, a combination of conflict and irregular rainfall resulted in a fall in production estimated at 40 percent. As Kitgum is normally a supplier of food to the Karamoja area, the effects of this decline in production will be felt there also.

The main food crops, millet and sorghum are grown in one season in Kitgum, with cash crops such as simsim being grown in the second season. Should the current insecurity continue or become more widespread, there will be a big food production shortfall in Kitgum in 1997. Cassava is grown year round, but production has been adversely affected by Cassava Mosaic Virus, which has caused many farmers to abandon this crop. Attempts by the Ministry of Agriculture to multiply planting material of tolerant and resistant cultivars has been severely hampered by the continuing insecurity. Sweet potatoes are grown along stream banks and provide an important source of food up to March/April.

In Moyo, insecurity is a major problem, affecting agriculture by preventing farmers from going to prepare land. Traders reported a sharp drop in availability of foodstuffs for sale to Kampala and other areas of the country.

In Gulu District the extension service cannot visit farmers following the killing of three extension staff in separate incidents in 1996.

Overall, the region faces a below average food production.

Western Region

Western Region comprises the districts of Masindi, Bundibuio, Hoima, Kibaale, Kabarole, Kibaale, Kasese, Mbarara, Bushenyi, Ntungamo, Rukungiri, Kabale and Kisoro. There are large livestock populations in Mbarara, Bushenyi and Ntungamo. In Kasese District there are two agricultural seasons, the first from February to June, with maize and beans being the main crops and the second beginning in August and ending in mid February. Production of beans is estimated to be down compared to the previous year due to heavy rains in October and November, 1996, which facilitated the development of Anthracnose diseases. Cassava Mosaic Virus also affected cassava crops in Kasese. Some flooding was reported from Kasese and this was accompanied by landslides in some hill areas. Widespread burning of vegetation on the hillsides is blamed for the occurrence of landslides.

Cassava is a main staple in Masindi District but it was devastated by Cassava Mosaic Virus, which struck the northern counties of the district in 1989. Since then, production has been recovering following the introduction of tolerant cultivars of cassava.

Prices of beans and maize have risen considerably in Kasese due to the shortage, with ex-farm prices of Ushs200 per kg for maize compared to Ushs120 in the previous year. Bean prices were reported to have reached 600-700 Ushs/kg, compared to 220-310 Ushs/kg in the previous year. Stocks were low at all tradersí premises visited in Kasese, with prices too high for most traders to enter the market, particularly in view of the high cost of transport to markets in Kampala.

Insecurity caused by rebel elements in the Rwenzori Mountain areas along the border with Zaire has resulted in the displacement of large numbers of people since November, 1996. These people stay with relatives and friends in Kasese and Bushenyi. Some uprooting of cassava by insurgents was reported in Bushenyi, together with rustling of livestock, particularly goats. The fear of being attacked by insurgents is preventing farmers from preparing land as they would normally do at this time of year and, if this continues, the main long rains crop will be badly affected.

A shortage of improved seed is expected in Bushenyi, due to inadequate distribution channels, with only one agent for the whole district. Indigenous seed is low yielding and this will have a markedly adverse effect on the July, 1997, harvest.

Yields of maize and beans were estimated, respectively, at 1.7 tons/ha and 0.7 tons/ha in Kasese. However, the area planted in 1996 was less than in previous years due mainly to low prices for the previous crop and rainfall was poorly distributed for the maize crop. Pest and disease incidence was reported to have been high, with Maize Streak Virus, stalk borers, bean aphids and American bollworm, all taking a toll of crops. The Uganda National Farmers Association is endeavouring to assist in combating pests and diseases by providing insecticides and fungicides at a subsidised price and by providing credit.

Rainfall has been good and erratic in different parts of the region, with mixed impact on agricultural production. On the whole, the agricultural performance in the last short rains season has been about average.


Livestock form a very important part of the agricultural economy of Uganda. Livestock numbers in 1995 were as follows [ Source: Republic of Uganda, 1996 Statistical Abstract. Statistical Department, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, GOU.] : cattle 5 233 000, sheep 924 000, goats 5 545 000, pigs 1 343 000, poultry 21 832 000.

No major production problems were reported to the mission during its visit. However, the outbreak of rinderpest in Kenya and Tanzania poses a potential threat to Ugandaís livestock.


Using the food crop production for 1997 projected by the Mission, shown respectively in Tables 2, the food balance sheet (Tables 3 below) has been prepared. The Mission figures are tentative and it is urged that a statistically appropriate survey be undertaken to generate reliable agricultural statistics.

In deriving the balance sheets, the Mission used the following estimates and assumptions [ Sources of parameters and basic data used include: The Republic of Uganda: National Food Strategy , Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, GOU, July, 1996; "Border Trade Baseline Study, April 1996, compiled for Agribusiness Development Centre (ADC)/Ugandaís Investment In Development Export Agriculture (IDEA) Project; and consultations with knowledgeable people at central and district levels in Uganda.]

  • The estimated 1997 population is 20.4 million, as explained in Section 2.
  • Over 90 percent of the calorie intake in Uganda is typically derived from cereals, roots and tubers, pulses, oil-seeds and plantains. The balance comes from an assortment of fish, meat, eggs and milk, etc.
  • The average per caput/annum consumption of food used in this exercise is as follows: cereals 56 kg; pulses 22 kg; roots and tubers 224 kg; plantains 398 kg.
  • These figures are not norms based on any nutritional standards, but have been derived from estimated apparent consumption in recent years These estimates are used in the absence of more reliable data on consumption norms. It is suggested that studies be undertaken to establish consumption norms.

    Table 3: Uganda: Food Balance Sheet 1997 (January-December) (Ď000 tons)

    Cereals Pulses Roots & Tubers Plantains
    TOTAL DOMESTIC AVAILABILITY 1643 512 6472 8940
    Production 1643 512 6472 8940
    Stocks Drawdown 0 0 0 0
    TOTAL UTILIZATION 1643 604 6472 8940
    Food Use 1142 449 4570 8119
    Seed 23 38 98 0
    Feed and other uses 42 0 0 0
    Losses 270 82 1618 805
    Exportable Surpluses1/ 166 2/ 35 186 16

    Commercial Imports

    1/ Expected exports, mostly informal, to neighbouring countries
    2/ Net exports after considering small quantities of wheat and rice imports

    The above balance sheet reveals small surpluses in cereals, roots and tubers, and plantains but a deficit of 92 000 tons in pulses.

    On the whole, the food outlook at the national level appears satisfactory for 1997. But there are food-deficit areas in northern districts due to production problems consequent upon insurgencies, and in north-eastern and eastern districts because of drought and floods, where substantial numbers of people face serious food shortages and are in need of food assistance.

    It appears that the situation of Ugandan agriculture is one of immense potential that remains grossly underdeveloped. With the population increasing at over 2.5 percent per annum, the nation wonít be able to avoid food problems becoming increasingly serious in years to come unless efforts are urgently made to modernize agriculture. Given appropriate policies and approaches, the nation can in fact produce substantial food surpluses for export. But, for that to happen, emphasis will need to be placed on crops such as maize and beans that have export markets. In such an export focused approach, care needs to be taken first to encourage and facilitate adequate production of different food crops for domestic consumption. Moreover, the issue of access to food will also need to be addressed by facilitating household food production and/or enhancing household food purchasing capacity through employment generation including outside agriculture.


    Although Uganda generally has an overall positive food balance in most commodities, a combination of drought, floods, rebel insurgency, and border conflicts has in 1996/7 reduced food production nation-wide and prevented 491 000 persons from achieving food self-sufficiency. The majority, including refugees, are farmers in peripheral areas of the country bordering Zaire, Sudan and Kenya. Even in good years, their real incomes from export crop and food production are low due to small landholdings, limited market access, poor agricultural extension, lack of credit facilities and inadequate technical and capital inputs.

    In 1996, poorly distributed rains reduced their second season cereal harvests by an average 30 percent while outbreaks of Cassava Mosaic Virus destroyed the drought resistant tuber and root crops on which these people traditionally rely during periods of distress. In 1997, their ability to cultivate and harvest their first season crop and to reach even minimum subsistence levels may be compromised by continuing insecurity and adverse weather conditions which could render the majority dependent upon food assistance for their basic nutritional and dietary needs.

    Official estimates indicate a large percentage of the population in western, northern and western Uganda are affected by the above mentioned conditions, including 1.5 million facing drought alone. However, on the basis of interviews, household-food surveys, cross-verification of military, NGO and local government population data, random spot checks, and extrapolation from newly established dwellings in displaced camps, the mission estimated the number affected population in need of food aid. The mission also found that many individuals displaced by drought or conflict have been hosted by relatives and friends in areas of relative security while others remain with mechanisms for coping with food shortages. Thus, a distinction was made between those Ďaffectedí and those in need of food aid.

    Affected Population Number Of Which: In Need of Food Aid
    Displaced Persons 351 582 150 000
    Drought Affected Persons 1 500 303 341 000
    Total 1 851 885 491 000

    7.1 Displaced Persons

    Insurgency by the Lordís Resistance Army (LRA) and West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) in northern and north-eastern Uganda, coupled with foreign military and rebel incursions along the countryís western border with Zaire, have resulted in a significant loss of life and property, in mass population displacement, and in unemployment, poverty and malnutrition. Many persons were only temporarily displaced and have since returned to their farms. Others have moved to live with friends and relatives in more secure areas while some 150,000 remain totally displaced in the larger townships and in areas protected by the military.

    Until February 1997, many IDPs risked returning to their villages to salvage food. However, their root crops have since rotted underground or have been destroyed by cassava mosaic while little remains of their standing crops as a result of pests. Continued insecurity has prevented the majority from returning to plant their crops before the rainy season. As a result, they will be unable to harvest the first season crop in July 1997 and will be largely dependent upon food assistance until the following harvest in February 1998.

    A WFP emergency operation was initiated to provide assistance to 110,000 persons in Gulu and Kitgum for a period of six months until July 1997 when the next harvest was expected. However, being only recently approved, the operation has yet to receive donor pledges and is operating on limited food resources borrowed from other programmes. In the meantime, it has become apparent that the July harvest will not yield to any significant extent and that the onset of the lean season alongside continued insecurity will necessitate an expansion in both the operationís scale (from 110,000 to 150,000 persons) and duration (from 6 to 10 months).

    District Population No. of IDPS No. in Need % of Pop
    Gulu 389 191 193 100 87 000 22.0
    Kitgum 410 761 60 480 55 500 14.0
    Arua 733 632 40 000 6 000 0.8
    Moyo 242 000 18 000 1 000 0.4
    Kasese 395 141 40 000 500 0.1
    Total 2 170 725 351 580 150 000 7.0

    The food assistance will primarily target women, children, the elderly and those hospitalized for illness and injuries who are amongst the most vulnerable, with women heads of households and their dependants being at highest risk. Nutritional surveys undertaken by ACF within Gulu town confirm that 27 percent of the children (<5 years) are moderately to severely malnourished in Gulu and Kitgum with MUAC measurements of less than 11 cm and weight-for-height ratios of less than 70 percent. Discoloured hair, edema and other tell-tale symptoms of Kwashiorkor are prevalent throughout the affected districts. Consequently, a total of 5,000 woman and children have been referred to hospitals for curative feeding programmes.

    Food assistance to IDPs in protected areas outside of the major townships of Gulu, Arua, Kitgum and Moyo will be provided as a dry, take-home subsistence ration. The mission is recommending that seed and farm implements be pledged and distributed with the food rations. The latter, if provided on time, will assist the IDPs in planting small garden plots in and around camps to supplement their diet, in reducing the amount of food aid required, and in avoiding an over-dependence on external assistance.

    Drought Affected Persons

    Rainfall throughout the north-eastern (Karamoja) and eastern districts of Uganda in 1996 was erratic and poorly distributed, resulting in an overall 55 percent reduction in cereal production. The national (30%) and regional averages however, mask the critical food situation in Pallisa, Kumi, Tororo, Mbale and Soroti districts where drought conditions have been more prolonged. Only in the eastern district of Kapchorwa was a maize surplus recorded. In remaining eastern districts, the cereal shortfall has forced prices upwards and far beyond the purchasing capacity of the average consumer. As a result of the drought and the Cassava Mosaic Virus, food reserves in many eastern households are expected to be depleted by April/May 1997.

    The Karamojan districts of Kotido and Moroto in the north-east are typically cereal deficit even during good crop years. Livestock husbandry and mono-cropping are the main activities with cattle being the primary source of food (meat, blood and milk) and accounting for approximately 40 percent of daily food intake. During periods of food shortage, people survive on game meat, wild fruits, tree leaves and milk. Some sell livestock or collect firewood when conditions worsen with persistent drought forcing distress migration to Kenya and to other areas where watering points and pasture are available. The present drought in Kenya and in neighbouring Ugandan districts has not only prevented the majority from relying on migration as a coping mechanism but has resulted in many pastoral families losing their livestock through cattle raids which have escalated dramatically since mid-February 1997. The remaining cattle are undernourished and have little sale value in more distant urban markets already over-supplied due to high slaughter rates.

    Non-cattle owners in Karamoja account for only one-third of the population and subsist on cereals, roots and pulses. Only a fourth of their activities are conducted in cash and they are heavily dependent upon what little surplusí they produce. Distress sales of jewellery, bicycles, goats and other assets began to occur end-February with many households forced to subsist upon tree leaves and other wild foods by mid-March 1997.

    Estimated number of drought-affected people in need of food aid

    Region/District Number of People
    Moroto 51 450
    Kotido 40 330
    Tororo 150 000
    Pallisa 25 750
    Mbale 1 400
    Kumi 37 300
    Soroti 34 800
    Total 341 030

    The mission estimates that not more than 341 030 persons, including 91 780 in Karamoja and 249 250 in the eastern districts, will be in possible need of food assistance to cover their basic subsistence requirements for three months or until they can harvest their first crop and regenerate their cattle herds. The duration of assistance will be largely dependent upon the forthcoming rains which are expected to be delayed one month or until early April. A joint WFP/Government/Donor assessment team is expected to investigate and report more accurately on the location and number of people in need of targeted emergency food assistance.

    Refugee Settlements

    The food requirement for Ugandaís refugee population lay beyond the Missionís terms of reference but not extraneous to its assessment. WFP and other agencies remain committed to fulfilling this requirement which has implications for other food programmes in-country. In the absence of local purchase possibilities and regular food arrivals for the refugees, their needs are typically met through inter-project loans which will continue to tax food supplies otherwise available for the affected local population until refugee food requirements are addressed.

    At the time of the mission there was a total caseload of 268 945 refugees in Uganda, including 225 149 Sudanese, 27 485 Zairian and 16 311 Rwandese. The food aid needs of the Zairian and Rwandese have been catered for under the WFP regional emergency operation for the Great Lakes region. The resource pipeline for this operation is adequate and it is anticipated that recent trends in voluntary repatriation will further reduce the level of resources required during 1997.

    Conversely, the food situation for Sudanese refugees in the north-western districts of Arua and Moyo has been markedly deteriorating for several months due to a lack of food aid pledges. Since their arrival in 1993, some 290 000 Sudanese were generously provided land by the Ugandan Government. By end-1996, close to 69 000 had either returned to Sudan or had achieved food self-sufficiency. The remaining 221 000 had reached varying levels of self-sufficiency (from 25 to 75 percent) and were receiving the balance of their subsistence needs from food aid under WFP PRO 5623.

    In mid-1996, intensified rebel activity in north-western Uganda placed constraints on food convoys while the food pipeline simultaneously dried-up. In order to avoid an interruption in distribution and ensure an even spread of resources throughout the settlements, WFP borrowed food from other programmes and reduced rations by 50 percent from August 1996 onwards. Meanwhile, drought conditions and the displacement of refugee farmers from their land by rebel attacks, has since January 1997 resulted in a steep rise in the incidence of malnutrition.

    Against a total requirement (April-December 1997) of 42 498 tons of cereals and non-cereals, including 9 963 tons required to repay loans, some 2 901 tons of non-cereals remain in stock and 15 000 tons of cereals have been pledged for arrival in April 1997, leaving an outstanding gap of 24 738 tons, including 21 819 tons of cereals which are urgently required.

    Estimated Emergency Food Aid Requirement for 1997 (not including refugees)

    Beneficiaries No. Affected Duration Cereals (Tons) Non-Cereals (Tons) Total (Tons)
    Displaced Persons 150 000 10 months 18 000 3 825 21 825
    Drought Affected 341 000 3 months 12 276 2 610 14 886
    Total 491 000
    30 276 6 435 36 711

    6.1.2 Resourcing Food Aid in 1997

    As a result of the drought in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, it will be impossible to purchase the quantity of food required either within Uganda or regionally. In-country stocks for on-going development projects and PROs are exhausted and are in fact heavily in debt to regional operations to which outstanding loans are due. The required food commodities will therefore need to be imported with loans from WFPís regional emergency operation being employed first, followed by purchases in Zimbabwe, South Africa or possibly Ethiopia, and finally, by imports from abroad. Where possible, WFP will undertake to divert vessels and/or purchase cargo afloat or in nearby ports to obtain resources in excess of borrowing capacity.

    A factor determining the timing and effectiveness of WFPís response will be level of confirmed pledges received. Initial interventions will need to rely heavily upon resources borrowed from regional operations. Inter-project loans can only be made once confirmed pledges have been announced and when there is evidence that the loans can be repaid. Thus, the mission has underscored the need for donors to make any planned food aid commitments known at an early date.

    Given the magnitude of food commodities required, the mission strongly urges the Government to facilitate the commercial import of maize by both small and large traders while giving due consideration to the need to establish a strategic grain reserve. The mission also recommends that taxes and levies be waived on food and other relief items imported by NGOs.


    The food assistance programme will be coordinated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Services (MLSS) and implemented through Government line agencies and NGOs. The Ugandan Red Cross is operational in all districts and will be the lead agency for the drought relief programme. Food for the displaced in Gulu municipality will be distributed by the Church of Uganda, ACORD, the Catholic Diocese and World Vision. In outlying areas of Gulu district, food will be distributed direct from WFP trucks under military escort. AVSI will be responsible for food distribution to displaced persons in Kitgum under the Resident District Commissionerís office. The refugee feeding programme in Arua and Moyo districts will continue to be a joint WFP/UNHCR/NGO operation. WFP has well positioned field offices in Arua, Moyo, Gulu, Kitgum and Karamoja which will be strengthened by staff redeployment to ensure adequate monitoring and logistical support.

    The import of large quantities of relief food for free distribution could have an adverse effect on the market by lowering prices of second-season cereals and pulses (February 1998) which could, in turn, encourage the planting of export crops instead of cereals in the following season. To counteract this, WFP will undertake whenever possible to procure from small-farmer associations at fixed and incentive prices.

    The mission recommends that sorghum, millet and other drought resistant seed, as well as fertlizer and farm implements be procured by the Government and donor community and that they be distributed along with the food assistance provided to act as an added incentive.

    Food aid is to be distributed first and foremost to the women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups as well as those who are willing and capable of farming and engaging in other constructive activities in exchange for food. Those unable to work or lacking employment opportunities will be provided a subsistence ration after their eligibility is determined through the NGO screening and registration process.

    This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources and is for official use only. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

    Abdur Rashid
    Chief, GIEWS FAO
    Telex 610181 FAO I
    Fax: 0039-6-5225-4495
    E-mail: INTERNET: [email protected]
    Amir Abdulla|
    Programme Coordinator, OSA, WFP
    Telex: 626675 WFP 1
    Fax: 0039-6-5228-2391

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