Land Suitability Assessment for Sugarcane Cultivation using a GIS-Based Multi-criteria Approach
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In 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) carried out a survey for the crops grown in the different parts of Uganda and mapped out the crops in each agricultural production zone. However, the areas suitable for cultivation of sugarcane were not mapped, yet the sugar industry significantly contributes to the economy through revenue, employment and income to the employees. As a result, the Ugandan government, sugar industries, out grower farmers and investors do not have precise knowledge of the acreage of land suitable for sugarcane cultivation. This study was aimed at assessing the land suitability for sugarcane cultivation using a GIS based Multi-Criteria approach. The study was carried out in the Northern region of Uganda since the recently constructed sugar factories in the region require sufficient sugarcane as a raw material for their operation. The biophysical factors considered were topography, climate, soil properties and water supply while the socio – economic factor considered was the market. All these factors were represented in ArcGIS 10.3 environment using the GIS datasets of temperature, rainfall, soil type, DEM, distance from Lakes, rivers, streams, main roads and sugar industries. All data was stored and analysed in model builder in ArcGIS 10.3 environment. The analytical-hierarchical process method was used to obtain the weights for each factor. The sugarcane land suitability results of this study showed that 57.5 % of the total area was highly and moderately suitable, 36.5 % was marginally suitable, and 6.0 % was not suitable for cultivation of sugarcane. It was found that the five most suitable districts were; Nwoya (6.7 %), Arua (6.3 %), Lamwo (5.8 %), Amuru (5.8 %) and Kitgum (5.0 %) districts. Therefore, these districts are recommended for the investors, sugar industries and out grower farmers if high quantities of sugarcane yields are to be realized.