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Mangoes: Sweet Money If You Get The Maths Right

by Harvest Money Editor
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Growth requirements

Mangoes can be grown in most parts of Uganda.

The mango is adapted to both tropical and subtropical conditions. Temperature range is 21- 25°C. Rainfall of at least 600 mm/year and an altitude of 1,500m-2,000m are ideal for the crop.

The crop is intolerant to salty conditions. Farmers should carry out soil tests to determine salty levels in soils. A dry period of at least three months is necessary for flowering.

The tree requires plenty of sunshine for optimum growth and fruiting.

Soils and site selection: Mangoes require deep soils with good drainage not necessarily fertile, but mangoes can thrive in a wide range of soil types.

Land

Commercially, one can start with half an acre. One can lease or rent land to grow mangoes 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 per acre in the central region outside Kampala and Wakiso and about sh10m in other parts of the country.

Avoid rocky places because they disturb root development, avoid stony or murram areas because in case of a storm, it will not withstand the storm.

Swampy areas produce weak roots that may not support the mature tree.

Mangoes do not do well in places with shade, such astree shades.

The soil should be sandy, loamy and deep.

Remove natural vegetation and anthills from 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 bacteria, as well as compromising soil pH and nutrients.

Spacing

Mango spacing depends on the rainfall pattern and soil fertility. If soils are fertile, then plant more trees. In Uganda, the recommended spacing for optimum plant population is 8m x 8m (24x24feet) giving 60 plants per acre.

This means that at sh2,000 a seedling, you need sh1.2m for the seedlings alone.

Watering

When planting is done during low rainfall season, the young plants should be watered at least once a week to avoid drying. It is also advisable to give water during flowering, where possible, to avoid flower abortion.

Watering after fruit set reduces fruit abortion and increases fruit size. A tree needs about 3 litres per week. If you invest in direct irrigation, you need at least sh10m per acre.

However, if you sink a deep well and manually use watering cans or flooding method, the cost is lower.

A deep well costs sh4m as a one-off expense while using men to water the trees per week may cost sh50,000.

Fertiliser requirements

Apply manure once a year at the beginning of the rainy season. Put at least two placements of (eddebe or cut jerrycan) of at least 5kg per tree, applied around one metre from the tree.

For artificial fertilisers, put about one plastic tumpeco around the tree at least every after three months.

Avoid putting too much nitrogen fertilisers to your mango plants during productive stage. This costs between sh1m-2m per year.

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