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Modern system of creating vegetable seedlings introduced

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th March 2010 03:00 AM

We could say our final goodbyes to a shortage of vegetables in the country soon, if a new system of preparing and managing seedlings is adopted by farmers.

We could say our final goodbyes to a shortage of vegetables in the country soon, if a new system of preparing and managing seedlings is adopted by farmers.

BY JOSHUA KATO

We could say our final goodbyes to a shortage of vegetables in the country soon, if a new system of preparing and managing seedlings is adopted by farmers.

The initiative involves the professional preparation of seedlings in a protected green house, which are then sold to vegetable farmers across the country.

The system has been introduced by Agromax, an agribusiness company. They have already set up a protected green house at Luteete on Gayaza road.

“I was disturbed that most of the supermarkets in Uganda import their vegetables from South Africa,” says Bob Kabonero, one of the businessmen behind the venture.

At the moment, most of the farmers in Uganda buy seeds that they plant in nurseries before transferring them into their gardens.

However, this system is flout with problems and in the end, less than 50% of the seeds procured progress into vegetables.

“It is a complete package. We give you the seedlings, the irrigation system and extension services,” says Samuel Peled, one of the managers of the venture.

The seedlings at the farm include tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, sweet maize corn and onions.

“In total, we are looking at 11 products,” Peled says. The seedlings are sold to the farmer complete with a cone shaped mould of very fertile soils.

“All that a farmer needs to do is dig the required hole and push it in,” Peled says.

The main benefit is that vegetable farmers will produce more vegetables using very small pieces of land. In other words, this is an intensive system of producing vegetables.

Furthermore, because there is water for irrigation, the farmers will be able to produce vegetables at any one time of the year.

Currently, vegetables are mainly produced in wetland areas of the country and only during the rainy seasons.

“We want to revolutionalise vegetable farming in the country,” Samuel Peled says.

“Farmers have been cheated with fake seeds, of which less than 50% sprout. Under this system, a farmer buys a finished product of seedlings, which has already been tried and tested,” Peled says.

Peled says that even though they also sell seedlings (to farmers only), it would be more beneficial if a farmer took the entire package, because it will ensure quality maintenance, hence more profits.

An entire package includes a 1,000 litre water tank and water tubes to run through the vegetable farm, the size of a quarter of an acre. It also includes seedlings of one’s choice and extension services from the company staff.

Hellen Machika, the farm manager, says in addition, the Agromax helps farmers prepare their land for planting.

If all goes well, she says, the initial expenses can be recovered in a single harvest. The tomato seedlings go for sh400 each. However, according to results from demonstration farms at the company’s complex in Lutette, a seedling produces at least 14kg in a period of six months.

At the current market price of sh2,200 per kilogram of tomatoes, a farmer earns at least sh30,000 per plant.

If a farmer plants 400 tomato plants, he will earn sh12m from them within six months.

The irrigation system enables farmers plant more cabbages on each line than under the commonly used system. For example, a quarter of an acre can take as many as 6,700 cabbage heads.

With each cabbage going at a farm gate price of sh500 each, a farmer can earn at least sh3.3m from a quarter of an acre.

“You can use the irrigation system for over five years,” says Hellen Machika, the farm manager.

By this time, a farmer would have had at least 15 harvests of vegetables using the same system and long recovered the initial expenses.

Modern system of creating vegetable seedlings introduced

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