Implications of land use land cover change and climate variability on future prospects of beef cattle production in the lake Victoria basin


This paper presents the lessons learnt from a research project titled “Improving Beef Cattle Pro- ductivity for Enhanced Food Security and Efficient Utilization of Natural Resources in the Lake Victoria Basin” which includes Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. The key focus is on the implications of land use land cover change and climate variability on the future prospects of beef cattle produc- tion in this region. The study utilizes information and data from natural resources and climate components to deduce the impact of land use and land cover changes on climate variability. Addi- tional analysis is conducted to summarize the land use and land cover data to carry out analysis on climate data using the Mann-Kendal test, linear regression and moving averages to reveal patterns of change and trends in annual and seasonal rainfall and temperature. The findings reveal that the study areas of Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania in the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) have changed over time following land cover manipulations and land use change, coupled with climate variability. The grazing land has been converted to agriculture and settlements, thereby reducing cattle graz- ing land which is the cheapest and major feed source for ruminant livestock production. Although the cattle population has been on the increase in the same period, it has been largely attributed to the fact that the carrying capacity of available grazing areas had not been attained. The current stocking rates in the LVB reveal that the rangelands are greatly overstocked and overgrazed with land degradation already evidenced in some areas. Climate variability coupled with a decrease in grazing resources is driving unprecedented forage scarcity which is now a major limiting factor to cattle production. Crop cultivation and settlement expansion are major land use types overtaking grazing lands; therefore the incorporation of crop residues into ruminant feeding systems could be a feasible way to curtail rangeland degradation and increase beef cattle production.



Beef Cattle Production, Climate Variability, Crop Residues, Land Use Land Cover Change, Lake Victoria Basin