By Andrew Kaggwa, NECJOGHA, Mbarara
Farmers have been advised to plant at the onset of rains because the water from the first rains contains nitrogen which is very useful for plant growth.
This advice was given by James Bataze a senior meteorologist with the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) at during a sub national climate café organised by the Network of Climate Journalists of the Greater Horn of Africa (NECJOGHA).
The café which was held at the Acacia Hotel in Mbarara on Monday was attended by journalists, district officials, and members of civil society organisations, pastoralists and farmers.
Bataze made a presentation on the weather forecasting where he reviewed the just ended March to May (MAM) rain season and a forecast of the present June to August (JJA) season. On the review of the March to May rain season, Bataze said it was the hardest for UNMA.
“We have never faced pressure like last season. We released five weather alerts in the space of one month. In February the rain started early as we had predicted but by April there was no rain,” Bataze said.
He explained that the rain for MAM was interrupted by the cyclone activity in the south especially Cyclone IDAI which in March and April drew all the wind which would bring rain to East Africa.
“Even countries with the most sophisticated equipment like US and Japan can’t predict cyclones (which they call hurricanes). We can only track them and know where they will pass when they start,” Bataze said.
On the JJA season, Bataze explained that this is mainly for northern Uganda which will be receiving much rain but the southern part will mostly be dry with near normal or below normal rainfall.
Bataze said that in August UNMA will be releasing the weather forecast for the September to December (SOND) season.
A climate café, which is an invention of NECJOGHA, is a public discourse on the weather, climate and climate services especially climate forecasting services from end user interaction. It brings together various stakeholders in climate related sectors including climate scientists, the media, climate related sector experts including academia, farmers, fishermen, livestock keepers and energy sector experts for vigorous exchange of information.
NECJOGHA is operational in 11 countries of Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan and Uganda. NECJOGHA with partners is conducting these climate cafes in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania over under the Weather Wise project. The cafes are done in collaboration with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of the respective countries and related climate impacted sectors.