Oranges were introduced in Uganda in the 1900s. The orange is a crop of economic importance and also a valuable source of Vitamin C.
It can be made into juices, concentrates, marmalade and jam. It is grown mainly in the east, north, areas of the central, including Kalungu, Sembabule, Mityana and Mubende districts and in the West Nile region of Uganda.
Common varieties include Hamlin, Valencia, Tangelo, Kingstar and Red bush.
What you should know
Budded or grafted plants start producing fruits at two-three years after planting.
Full productivity is reached in about 10 years and can go on for 50 years, if well maintained.
Maturity is indicated by colour change to slightly yellowish.
Harvest citrus fruits by clipping or pulling from the tree.
The use of picking bags or baskets is recommended to collect the fruit and to prevent contact with the ground to reduce lowered quality.
The average yield in Uganda is 12-15 tonnes per acre in a year.
One tree can produce two sacks (90-130kg)/tree per season
One can lease or rent land to grow oranges or buy it for the purpose.
Leasing or renting costs between sh700,000 to sh1m in most of the central region per year or about sh200,000 to sh400,000 in other parts of the country.
Buying the land costs about sh25m in the central region outside Kampala and Wakiso and about sh10m in other parts of the country.
What to note
Avoid rocky places because they disturb root development, avoid stony or murram areas because in case of a storm, it will not stay and avoid swampy areas.
Citrus fruits do not do well in places with shade, such as tree shades.
The soil should be sandy, loamy and deep.
Remove natural vegetation and anthills off the land during land preparation.
The two main methods for this are chemical application (use of weed masters, herbicides) and manual method (mechanical use of farm tools like pangas and tractors). This costs sh100,000 to sh150,000 per acre.
Avoid bush burning as you end up killing lots of other useful species, including compromising soil pH and nutrients.