Uganda's favorable soil conditions and climate have contributed to the country's agricultural success. Most areas of Uganda have usually received plenty of rain. In some years, small areas of the southeast and southwest have averaged more than 150 millimeters per month. In the north, there is often a short dry season in December and January. Temperatures vary only a few degrees above or below 20° C but are moderated by differences in altitude. These conditions have allowed continuous cultivation in the south but only annual cropping in the north, and the driest northeastern corner of the country has supported only pastoralism. Although population growth has created pressures for land in a few areas, land shortages have been rare, and only about one-third of the estimated area of arable land was under cultivation by 1989.
Throughout the 1970s, political insecurity, mismanagement, and a lack of adequate resources seriously eroded incomes from commercial agriculture. Production levels in general were lower in the 1980s than in the 1960s. Technological improvements had been delayed by economic stagnation, and agricultural production still used primarily unimproved methods of production on small, widely scattered farms, with low levels of capital outlay. Other problems facing farmers included the disrepair of the nation's roads, the nearly destroyed marketing system, increasing inflation, and low producer prices. These factors contributed to low volumes of export commodity production and a decline in per capita food production and consumption in the late 1980s.
The decline in agricultural production, if sustained, posed major problems in terms of maintaining export revenues and feeding Uganda's expanding population. Despite these serious problems, agriculture continued to dominate the economy. In the late 1980s, agriculture (in the monetary and nonmonetary economy) contributed about two-thirds of GDP, 95 percent of export revenues, and 40 percent of government revenues. Roughly 20 percent of regular wage earners worked in commercial agricultural enterprises, and an additional 60 percent of the work force earned some income from farming. Agricultural output was generated by about 2.2 million small-scale producers on farms with an average of 2.5 hectares of land. The 1987 RDP called for efforts both to increase production of traditional cash crops, including coffee, cotton, tea, and tobacco, and to promote the production of nontraditional agricultural exports, such as corn, beans, groundnuts (peanuts), soybeans, sesame seeds, and a variety of fruit and fruit products.
|Country Studies main page | Uganda Country Studies main page|