By David Akodi, Africa Innovation Institute, Kampala
The Vital Signs monitoring system has been collecting and integrating agricultural, environmental and livelihoods data in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ghana; to provide decision support tools to policy makers, businesses and farmers to influence development in a way that protects the environment, while also improving human wellbeing.
The objective of this study was to develop a suitability map for cassava in order to guide farmers’ decision in selecting where cassava production might be best The study integrated Vital Signs soils data integrated with other parameters as detailed below. Cassava is the second most important staple food crop in Africa after maize. Over the last decade, cassava production has been majorly for domestic consumption and local markets, but more recently, cassava has increasingly found use in the brewing and starch industry. This has driven the need for commercial production to meet the growing demand. Mapping out areas that are suitable for cassava production can therefore support the increase in its sustainable intensification and production .
The parameters used in this suitability analysis included; sum of basic cations, soil pH, soil organic carbon and annual precipitation. Suitability maps for each of the parameters were derived using Geographical Information System (GIS) approach based on weighted overlay analysis in ArcGIS10.2. The cross raster overlay operations were also done in ArcGIS10.2 to combine the physico-chemical suitability and climate suitability maps into the final cassava suitability map.
Most of Uganda’s land area was found to be suitable for cassava production. The Lake Victoria crescent, Lake Albert crescent, Eastern highlands, some parts of West Nile and Western highlands agro-ecological zones were found to be highly suitable for cassava production. There were only small parts of Western drylands that are not suitable for cassava production.
Further research: In this study, only four parameters were however considered. There is therefore need to include other parameters such as apparent cation exchange capacity, slope, flooding, drainage, soil depth and mean annual temperature to improve on the suitability analysis.