2. Uganda: Pumpkin co-op offers growing tips (New Vision)

| August 3, 2009

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Pumpkins can be found in many fields across Uganda. Farmers often grow a few pumpkins next to their main cash crops. At harvest time, they sell them for extra income.

But pumpkins are big business for 200 members of the Nkokonjeru Women’s Savings and Credit Project in Central Region. The group has learned the best techniques for cultivating pumpkins. Now pumpkins are their main source of income.

Henry Kasozi is chairman of the co-operative. He explains that pumpkins are a hardy crop. They can survive more than eight months of drought. However, they do not grow by themselves. Like other crops, you must carefully tend to pumpkins in order to get good yields.

Mr. Kasozi explains that pumpkin holes should be dug 90 centimetres by 60 centimetres (three feet by two feet). Four pumpkin seeds should be planted in each hole. Growers fill the hole and create a mound with organic manure and top soil.They mulch the lower part of the stem with dry grass.

Mr. Kasozi also has tips for controlling pests. Animal urine can be applied to the plant to keep pests away. Or, mix tobacco leaves, pepper, and water and apply this mixture to the leaves.

Attention to pumpkin growing techniques has paid off for the women’s co-operative. A single plant can yield about 60 pumpkins. Each pumpkin sells for 500 Ugandan shillings (about 0.24 American dollars or 0.17 Euros) in the market.

Growing tips for many crops are offered in Farm Radio International’s script bank on crop production: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/crop.asp.