How to grow organic vegetables on your farm for extra money
Native vegetables contribute a lot to our immune system, hence the need for farmers to step up the pace at which they are involved in their cultivation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an adult should eat 400 grams of vegetables a day.
However, insufficient market access and seasonal fluctuation in available vegetables make it difficult for rural households to consume enough vegetables.
Many efforts have been invested by experts in the agricultural sector to produce enough food for the people of Uganda, including for export, but indigenous vegetables often called traditional vegetables are underestimated in favor of exotic vegetables.
The majority of the population depends on major food crops such as maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, millet, sorghum and rice among others which are eaten with beans, beef, chicken and peanut stew.
These foods are able to provide the body with calories for energy, but are very low in other nutrients that nourish the body, thereby protecting it from disease.
Traditional vegetables have a very high nutritional value, they contain vitamin A, B and C, proteins and other minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, iodine and fluorine in variable and capable quantities of good health.
A concrete example is that the vitamin A that prevents blindness in children is found in green vegetables. Unfortunately, consumers of these vegetables have not been informed about the role of traditional vegetables in achieving a healthy life in humans.
Most people consume it as a last resort because it is cheap to buy and easy to cook.
Agricultural experts believe that very few farmers are engaged in the cultivation of traditional vegetables for marketing purposes, as the majority of the rural population grows them on small plots of land and other communities harvest a good number of varieties. in nature, the tendencies of which must be modified.
In a publication by Naro scientists of the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL-Kawanda) in Kampala on the conservation and use of traditional vegetables in Uganda, it is stated that in 2004 very little research had been done in the area of traditional vegetable breeding.
It is stated that most of the germplasm collected from 1994 to 1984 has been lost and current efforts to collect and preserve it have been hampered by lack of funds.
As of 2004, scientists had so far documented 34 species of traditional vegetables that are grown by farmers and those that grow in the wild and below are the species.
Of which 21 species are found throughout the country and the rest are cultivated region by region, although it is feared that others have become instinctive.
Common traditional vegetables include amaranth consisting of various species, namely Amaranthus dubius (dodo), Amaranthus gracecizane (ebuga), Amaranthus hybridus (goiigoyi) and Amaranthus hybridus subsp. incurvatus (ebuga ezuungu).
Others are pigeon peas, chilies, taro, fleur du jour, pumpkin, African spider grass, okra, cassava leaves, lima beans, green beans, scarlet eggplant, bitter berries, nakati nume y’akyalo, cowpea, malakwang (hibiscus ssp), tomatoes, eggplant and cabbage.
In 1968, a rural food consumption survey conducted in Ankole, Busoga, Masaka and West Nile, representing western, eastern, central and northern Uganda respectively, showed that many traditional vegetables were eaten all over Uganda, although they were prepared differently according to preference. local communities.
The survey indicated that the average consumption of traditional vegetables was 160 grams per capita per day during the rainy season when green leafy vegetables are abundant.
However, the survey indicated that people living in poor urban areas consume 12 grams per person per day.
The adequacy of the amount of traditional vegetables consumed depends on the production areas and the composition of staple foods.
Experts advise that all vegetable species, whether native or exotic, have the same method to apply from planting to harvesting, except for a few.
In a manual published by agronomists working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on vegetable gardening techniques, the team says vegetables can be grown in association with other plants or only in an independent field.
The timing and duration of harvesting differs for different types of vegetables and farmers should keep this in mind when planting vegetables, in order to be harvested throughout the year.
Also, it should be noted that if the same vegetables are grown in the same plot every year, there will be a high possibility of disease and pest outbreaks.
Thus, the same plot should not be used for the same type of vegetable for more than four years.
The schedule of the cultivation plan should indicate which variety of vegetables should be planted and in which plot, including the production of bagged garden vegetables.
Part of the vegetables should be saved to secure the seeds for the next season. In doing so, it would be best to save the first or second plant fruits. Selecting better plant fruits will result in better production in the next harvest.
Preparing the nursery bed
Once a farmer has selected the best seed for a specific vegetable variety, he can either plant seed directly or go through the nursery and the seedlings are transferred for planting at the vegetable farm.
The nursery should be located on land close to the house and it should be well exposed to the sun, but protected from strong heat. The shed is provided to prevent tender seedlings from being destroyed by the sun.
It needs to be watered regularly and it may take a month before the seedlings are transferred to the main garden.
The nursery bed can be raised and submerged, good for retaining water in the dry season, which should be prepared with soft soil and the seeds are sown in plastic pots. They are left to grow for a week and the best seedlings are selected for planting.
Land preparation and planting
Farmers are advised to prepare the land at the onset of the rains and a loamy soil texture is recommended. Farmers who plant during the dry season can prepare the land earlier and once they have transplanted the seedlings, they are advised to irrigate in order to get good yields. The sowing area for seedlings should be well prepared to allow easy germination. Farmers are advised to spread manure on the seedbeds and those who can afford it can apply fertilizer at a recommended rate.
Sowing and transplanting
In case of direct sowing, it is good to sow the seeds 7 to 14 days after filling the compost in the pit.
Farmers are supposed to sow between three and four seeds in a trench two to three cm deep. If using seedlings after one month of germination, a healthier seedling should be kept and the rest should be removed.
If transplanting seedlings, it should be 7 by 10 cm tall with four to five true leaves in each seedling.
A seedling should be transplanted to one location and the spacing may vary from one plant species to another.
Training and size
The pruning and training of different vegetable species is very important to get maximum yield from the plant.
Farmers should allow the plant to grow without side branches or tendrils up to about 12 stem nodes. Next, the main stem must be pruned.
Farmers should not leave any side branches of the plant under the trellis and should place them upwards on the trellis. Those who grow naturally must be able to push upwards.
Never let the soil dry out completely, which means constant watering is needed in case rainwater is not enough.
Weeding is necessary to loosen the soil and control weeds. The first weeding should be done at the time of the introduction of additional fertilizers and the second weeding would be best at the time of covering the roots of the plants with soil.
Pests and diseases
There are a number of pests that attack vegetables, including weevils, termites, fruit flies, whiteflies, caterpillars and glowworms, depending on the variety of vegetable.
The diseases are powdery mildew, mosaic virus, root rot and some of the diseases are fungal and some are viruses causing the same damage to leaves and pods.
Farmers are advised to apply bio-pesticides as well as use integrated pest management practices by removing, among other things, infested plants.
Harvesting and marketing
Most native vegetables ripen in two months or less, once the plants are ripe remove the leaves by hand while still green and the pods indicate eggplant and tomatoes should be removed when ripe. still soft when not fully ripe.
Farmers can harvest vegetables continuously by allowing growth intervals of two to three weeks and this can last six times depending on the growing vigor of a particular vegetable variety.
Farmers who grow vegetables for commercialization have many markets including local public markets, supermarkets, hospitals and schools where children are expected to consume lots of vegetables to change their diet.
Usually, the challenge farmers face is storage and too much rain, which can cause the vegetables to rot.
Another challenge is the water source for irrigation during the dry season as well as pests and diseases.