The impact of rainfall variability on coffee production in eastern Uganda
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Coffee is one of the primary sources of income for millions of smallholder farmers and households, and the price farmers get for their coffee is normally influenced by bean quality in terms of size, and physical attributes, yet all these are majorly determined by variations in the amounts of rainfall received annually in the world’s tropics, and so, the climate remains a key determinant of successful coffee production. This study investigated the impact of rainfall variability on coffee production in Mbale, being guided by three specific objectives; to determine the trend in annual and seasonal rainfall in Mbale between 2000 and 2019, to determine the trend in coffee yields in Mbale between 2000 and 2019, and to establish the effect of rainfall variability on coffee yields in Mbale between 2000 and 2019, using a longitudinal research design using time-series data for 20 years from 2000 to 2019; employing a simple linear regression model, and trends in rainfall and coffee production and MAM and SON rainfall variability were also investigated using the student t-test. Empirical findings of the study revealed MAM rainfall has an increasing significant effect on the volume of coffee produced in Mbale with a p-value of 0.007<0.05, while SON rainfall has an increasing but an insignificant effect on the volume of coffee output, with a p-value of 0.06>0.05. The R-Squared (0.5177) revealed that 51.77% of variations in coffee output volumes is determined by the amount of precipitation received in the MAM and SON seasons. The study recommended for the need for coffee farmers to consider their planting activities more in the MAM season. The study also recommended for the need by the government to avail coffee farmers with periodic weather forecast to enable them make informed farming decisions in their planning processes.