Li Cheng

In Uganda, agriculture makes up 70 to 80 percent of the gross domestic product, says Saul “Daniel” Ddumba (ESPP and Geography). But, he explains, there’s still a lack of education for growers.

“We get rainfall, we grow crops.” That’s the basic understanding, he says. And as climate change becomes an increasingly important issue, the need for education is even greater. That’s one reason why Ddumba is looking at the impact of climate variation and change on crop production in Uganda, specifically for sweet potatoes and maize. It’s research he believes can directly contribute to his native country.

Here at MSU, Ddumba is on a Fulbright Science and Technology scholarship, working with Jeff Andresen (Geography) on agricultural meteorology issues. This research integrates climate and meteorology data and techniques, and applies it to agricultural problems, like crop production, soil moisture, and pest migration. Andresen’s research group also has extensive experience working in East Africa. “I came here simply because of the [MSU] climate research team,” says Ddumba. “They really relate to what I do. If I talk about Uganda, they know.”

Ddumba has a bachelors in education and a post graduate diploma in meteorology from Makerere University in Uganda as well as a masters in applied meteorology from the University of Reading in the U.K. Before coming to MSU, Ddumba was working at Makerere as an assistant lecturer, a position he hopes to resume after completing his Ph.D.

“Uganda and developing countries in general don’t have a lot of scientists to help in that area,” says Ddumba, referring to the field of climate change and agriculture. There are “less national resources to have models and comparisons.”

Ddumba sees his work in ESPP as important to assessing the institutions and agricultural policy already present in Uganda.That assessment will help him develop more efficient crop production adaptation strategies.