Nature-based Solutions for Climate- Resilient Tea Production in Uganda (NbS4Tea)

Project summary

Tea is an important part of Uganda's economy, but climate change is a major threat to its production. Tea plants are typically grown in rainfed systems across Uganda, and increasing frequency and duration of heat and drought spells have negative effect on the already low yields with accompanied pests and diseases. There is a large potential for improvements of tea production, productivity, and biodiversity through the principles of nature (nature-based solutions, NbS) in integrated plant-soil management system, including agroforestry and bio-fertilizers. The NbS4Tea project combines researchers from Aarhus University with Makerere University (MAK) and Rwebitaba Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (R-ZARDI, one of the institutes of the National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda) on an ambitious task to study and innovate productive and climate-resilient tea agroecosystems in Uganda based on local, sustainable and long-lasting solutions. NbS4Tea opts to: 1) quantify climate change impacts on tea yield and quality in Uganda, thereby also identifying climate-resilient tea varieties for the farmers, 2) develop new methods for improving soil moisture and nutritional status with locally available biomass resources, and smart technologies for supplementary irrigation, 3) optimize tea agroforestry gardens as a viable NbS to tackle biodiversity, temperature regulation and moisture retention, 4) empower vulnerable communities in tea production and processing, and 5) identify export market strategies to substantially increase tea production in Uganda and improve livelihoods. The NbS4Tea project is based on multidisciplinary research and includes novel data mining and biophysical modeling methods, glasshouse and field experiments carried out at both MAK and R-ZARDI with proximal and remote sensing, social surveys and advanced economic analyses. Through academic education, methodical workshops, and international knowledge dissemination, NbS4Tea will increase the research capacity of both Makerere University and R-ZARDI to measure, design and optimize tea agroecosystems for production, ecology, nutrient, water and socio-economic management. The project addresses the UN SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and wellbeing), 5 (gender equality) and 13 (climate action), and is also timely amid the efforts of the Uganda’s national climate change policy to achieve a more climate-resilient tea production.

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