By Umar Nsubuga
Guavas (psidium guajava) are not grown on a large scale in Uganda. Their properties are similar to those of apples.
Guava is rich in calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins. These vitamins are abundant in the skin of the fruit rather than in the pulp. So, a fruit must not be skinned.
Vitamin C found in guava is sufficient quantity and its quantity increases in a ripe fruit.
“Up to 210mg vitamin C is found in every 100mg of a ripe guava,” states Facciola cornucopia in the Source Book of Edible Plants.
Many canned products like jelly, are prepared from guava. Some farmers from Bugerere-Mukono and Mitala Maria-Masaka recently grew guava on a large scale, though the dry season affected their yields.
Guava needs enough rainfall and does well in warm areas. Guavas have both sweet and sour varieties.
There are two types of guava, one with white pulp and the other with red. The ones with red pulp are popular in Uganda. Fruiting of guava trees takes place twice a year.
Facciola says green, raw guavas help to cure diarrhoea.
Joseph Bukenya who owns two plants in his compound says guavas grow up to 8m (25ft), spreading wide to about 7m (22ft). The guava grows best under temperatures of 220 C-280 C, with humidity levels of 70% or less.
He says there are few guavas on the market because many people are not interested in growing them.
According to the World Agroforestry Centre, the guava tree can bear fruits for 15-25 years.
Bukenya says the more fertile the soil is, the faster the guava tree will grow. It could take between two and three years to produce fruits and one tree can produce over 100 guavas in season.
According to Bukenya, the season for guavas is always in the middle and end of the year, but because they grow in different areas, many times the guavas don’t sprout at the same time.
He says he realised that guavas can grow anywhere and yet they fetch good money on the market.
“There are few guavas during the dry season. For example, between January and March, a kilo went for as much as sh4,000 in most markets around the city,” he says.
Although the fruit is grown all year round, Bukenya says its major season is from September running through to November. Sometimes it could run until December.
Dan Ntale, who works at Kalerwe Market says when guavas are off-season, they could even go for sh5,000 a kilo.
Irene Nabirye, who vends salads, says guavas are mostly bought by people who make juices.
Fruit salads are a big business in town. Along the streets, there will be a number of vendors selling these guavas.