The incomes of farmers are not always rosy in the middle of the year. This second season, the situation is still harder based on how the world is trampling with the economic crisis as COVID-19 is still affecting the world economies, the political environment and school fees dilemma that is setting in does not also give them so much hope.
Farming has always been the answer to the financial hardships in Uganda and for that, here are the crops that will give you quick money within 30 and 90 days to help you manage the financial situation ahead. These are the money crops for the second season of 2022.
Cucumbers are now commonly eaten as salads by families, especially in urban areas.
If you take a walk through the large markets, there are many traders selling cucumber which means that the market is not only available but there is money too in the product. At the moment, a single large bulb costs as much as sh500.
A well-maintained acre of cucumber can yield around 30 tons for the best varieties like hybrid cucumber Darina. This is if all the required fertilizers and pesticides are used on the farm.
With this yield, a farmer can earn as much as sh10m against an investment of between sh3-4m. certainly, that is good money for a period of three months.
These crops can be grown almost anywhere in Uganda, as long as the soils are dark, loam and fertile.
Perhaps the only region that cannot grow cucumber is Karamoja, given the sandy nature of the soils and the very dry environment.
Cucumber matures in 50-70 days. This means that if you planted it now, by the end of February you will be harvesting and commanding a higher price because few people are planting now because of the dry spell that’s setting in.
Strawberries are an exotic fruit that is gradually taking Ugandans by heart.
However, although some farmers are growing it, a lot of it is still imported. These berries can be grown by urbanites, using small spaces in their homes.
For example, to invest in 500 plants, the investment is quite low. Each seedling costs sh5,000 which is sh2.5m in total.
Selecting the soils
The soil should be mixed with well-decomposed animal manure before being packed into the polythene bag. The polythene bag is used for transplanting the splits and it must be consistently watered until new leaves sprout.
Strawberries require well-drained, sandy-loam to loamy soils with a PH level between 5.0 and 5.5. However, strawberries can be grown in more clayey soils if a sufficient quantity of compost is added to the soil during soil preparation.
It takes at least 75 days for the splits to mature and start bearing fruit, and the mother plant can continue producing fruits for the next five years.
In 30 days, the plant will start flowering but if you are doing business, the plant is still young and unable to fully feed itself and the berries. Therefore, the flowers that come before 60-75 days should be aborted.
Strawberries are mainly propagated from split or runner plants, which are potted and selected from vigorous, high-yielding and disease-free plants.
The crowns may be divided to get new plants, but this is somewhat more difficult. Ensure that you get disease-free plants from a reputable nursery.
There are several ways of planting strawberries, these include directly on the ground, raised beds and containers and vertical or raised beds.
Vertical farming or planting on raised beds doesn’t only increase the plant population in the same space, but it promotes good water drainage and larger berries are also encouraged to develop.
Beds should be 60 – 75cm wide, 100 – 120cm apart with plants 15–30cm apart over the beds. The strawberry plant is shallow-rooted and requires fertilization during the growing season to keep it vigorous.
Irrigation is critical immediately after planting for crop survival. As the plants are shallow rooted, they require 2.5cm of water per week for 12 weeks per growing season.
Irrigation increases yields by 2.5 times (250 per cent), boosts runner rooting, growth rate, flower bud formation, useful in pesticide application, frost control, prolongs harvest and cools the crop to prevent sunscald.
You need to have sufficient water at the farm to water the plants regularly. During the dry season, you can water in the morning and evening.
Abel Kiddu, a mushroom farmer at Makindye, says that mushroom growing is a business that can be very profitable within a few weeks.
Starting your own business opt for Oyster mushroom variety because it has more demand and profitability is fair.
Harvest can start from 21 days and can go on for over 150 days. Air temperature during cropping should be held between 57 to 62 degrees for good results.
Because the dry season is already here, it’s important to irrigate.
Therefore, if you have water and you can plant these crops now, you will leap much because at the time of your harvest, many of the farmers will be planting and thus supply will be low and the prices high.
According to Kiddu, making a garden is not so complicated.
“You need cotton husks which for me I buy in bulk from districts like Lira and Soroti and store since I make many gardens on a daily. A bag of 40kgs costs sh20, 000,” he says.
You need to sock the cotton in water for about an hour then drain it to a level of just being moist before packing it into polythene bags. Also, Boil the bags and kill the germs that could be on them.
“You need to have water because it’s necessary to sock and cook and it is one of the highest expenditures because every month I pay about sh200,000 for water bills,” he says.
Pack the cotton husks into polythene bags before cooking them. After packing, place it well into a metallic drum.
But put sticks at the bottom to prevent water from logging into your cotton because it affects the quality of that cotton, garden and harvest as well.
It is advisable to cook it in the evening for about three hours and then let it cool down throughout the night. Open it in the morning.
Whenever you are going to touch the gardens, you have to wash your hands with water mixed with Jik to ensure all the germs are killed.
After cooling, put it in a clean, dry and cold place for 1-2 days before you put on the mushroom seeds (spawn). In 30 days it will be ready to bear mushrooms.
“I sell my gardens at 27 days,” he says.
Establishing a vegetable nursery
-Get well-drained loam soils and mix them with compost manure. Manure can be directly decomposing kitchen waste or livestock droppings for example from a chicken house.
-If you are picking soil for the nursery, avoid picking it from spots that have previously been used for similar crops because these may be infected.
-Set the nursery in an area that is not prone to flooding because this will affect the tender crops.
-Make sure that the seedlings have enough light but not too much. This means that you have to cover the nursery with leaves or if you have resources, put it in a translucent polythene roofing.
-To plant the seeds in the nursery, drill lines of 2cm deep across the nursery bed and sparsely drop the seeds in lines.
-Water the bed until it is well soaked, however, watering depends on the weather conditions.
-The seedlings will be ready for transplanting between 15-20 days.
However, if you cannot propagate your seed, then you can buy mature seedlings. Each seedling costs sh300 which mean that if you are planting an acre with 10,000 seedlings, that is about sh3m on seedlings alone.
Common vegetable diseases
Common diseases are early and late blight (ekibabuko), Powderly and downy mildew, bacterial specks, yellow leaf curl etc.
Avoid the environment that favours fungal diseases i.e stagnant water on the leaves, avoid weeds in the garden they can become alternate hosts, and remove diseased leaves that have fallen to the ground.
-Conduct regular scouting in the garden to check for signs of disease.
-Use preventive fungicide sprays i.e. Mancozeb and copper-based fungicides. Preventive sprays should be done at least twice a week in a dry season and thrice in a wet season.
In case of manifestation of disease curative, fungicides should be used e.g Ridomil, tatamaster or emexyl, they all have the same active ingredient i.e mancozeb and metalaxyl. These can be got from certified dealers around the country.
Curative fungicides can prevent and cure eradicate diseases,
70grams of preventive fungicides in 20 liters of water should be the ideal dosage for control of the disease, whereas for curative fungicides 50grams in 20 litres of water is ideal.
Mites, thrips, aphids, whiteflies. They are commonly sucking insects.
They suck the sap out of the leaves, causing leaves to lose their photosynthetic potential because of the loss of the green colour.
-Some like thrips feed on the flowers causing flower abortions
They also feed on the fruits hence affecting the market quality of the fruits.
Regular scouting for pests is a must. Destroying alternative hosts like weeds from the field.
Conducting insecticidal sprays. Recommended pesticides include Durban, larva, tarfgor, cypermethrin, Rocket, Fenenvalate, Malataf.
Costs start from sh15,000, depending on the quantity.