With value-added, that single pumpkin can earn you over sh10,000.
Pumpkins are a delicacy that is consumed in almost every part of the country.
Currently, prices range from sh1,000 for a medium-sized pumpkin at farm gate to sh5,000 for a large one at retail. Each plant produces as many as 30 pumpkins per season, which gives over 9,000 per acre or even more. If the moderate price is sh1,000 each at farm gate, that adds up to sh9m per acre.
Pumpkins are perhaps one of the easiest foods to grow and there are over seven varieties in Uganda. These include sweet cream, bala, dulu, onziga, sunfish, sugar pie and anderina.
Add value, earn more
The average price of pumpkins here is sh1,000 at the farm.
And yet with value-added, that single pumpkin can earn you over sh10,000. This is because, from one big pumpkin, the seeds alone go for more than sh5,000, while the juice from two pumpkins is enough to process a 750ml bottle of wine, which goes for between sh15,000 and sh20,000.
This is simple. The seeds are dried under the sun or using a solar dryer. They are then roasted in saucepans before they are packed in containers. A 150g container goes for sh5,000.
Pumpkin leaves powder can also be generated and sold as a sauce additive. The leaves are dried in the solar drier. They are then pounded, before being packed. These can be eaten as a sauce once mixed with hot water and spices.
How to make pumpkin wine
The pumpkins are washed, trimmed, peeled, chopped and ground before they are placed in the fermenter to start the fermentation process. Spices and boiling water are added and the mixture allowed to rest overnight.
The following day, add sugar and stir well till it is dissolved.
Sprinkle yeast over the mixture and stir. Stir daily for three to five days. The mixture will get nice and bubbly and should have a pleasant, mildly yeasty smell.
At the end of this first fermentation (after five days), the pumpkin will have turned to mush and the grapes will be plump. Strain and squeeze out as much juice as possible. Distill into a secondary fermenter, add water and then attach airlock.
An airlock is an airtight cover.
For a dry wine, filter in three weeks and every three months for one year. For a sweet wine, filtering should be done at three weeks. Add 1/2 cup of sugar dissolved in one cup of wine.
Stir gently and place back into the secondary fermenter. Repeat the process every six weeks until fermentation does not restart with the addition of sugar. Filter every three months until one year old. The older the wine, the better it gets, so allow the wine to grow for at least one year for the best flavour.
Compiled by Joshua Kato (editor, Harvest Money) and Joyce Kyalema (who adds value to pumpkins)