November 14, 2008

Uganda's main corn, cotton regions hit by flooding


Weeks of above average rainfall have caused flooding in the main corn and cotton producing regions of Uganda, Musa Ecweru, the minister in charge of disaster preparedness said Thursday (November 13, 2008).


The floods have mainly affected districts around the shores of Lake Kyoga as well as low-lying regions in eastern and northern Uganda, he said.


He said that it is a repeat of what happened last year, and 3 districts have already been cut off by the floods.


Eastern Uganda produces nearly half of the country's corn as well as a bulk of the country's cotton.


The above normal rains since early October are blamed on changing weather patterns.


According to Ecweru, disaster preparedness committees have been established in every sub county to help and people living in mountainous regions have been warned to vacate slopes as precaution against landslides.


Last year, flooding in the region destroyed thousands of hectares of estate crops. Uganda's 2007-08 cotton output plunged to 65,000 185-kilogramme bales from 135,000 bales the previous season as a result.


Cotton farmers are now picking the 2008-09 (October-September) main crops.


Industry officials say the heavy flooding is likely to hurt 2008-09 cotton output. However, the state-run Cotton Development Organization is still assessing the impact of the weather on the main crop. It earlier projected 2008-09 cotton crops of 150,000 bales.


Uganda is Africa's second leading organic cotton producer after Tanzania.


According to Uganda Coffee Development Authority, coffee in the region has not yet been affected by floods because it's cultivated on higher altitudes. However, the ongoing rains have hampered the 2008-09 (October-September) main harvest slashing October arabica coffee exports by 30 percent on year.

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