How to save money through urban farming

By Umar Nsubuga

A family of five in Kampala spends at least sh15,000 every day on food. This includes buying staple food like potatoes and bananas, sauce like fish or meat and vegetables.

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KAMPALA - Food prices have gone up drastically in the last few weeks. For rural dwellers, the crisis may not be as big as it is for their urban counterparts, who have to buy everything from the market.

A family of five in Kampala spends at least sh15,000 every day on food. This includes buying staple food like potatoes and bananas, sauce like fish or meat and vegetables.

Families also have to buy fruits like mangoes, paw paws, oranges and passion fruit.

Joseph Bukenya who practices backyard farming says people living in urban areas can reduce their cost of living considerably by growing some of their food.

"Any free space in the back yard, on the lawn, on the veranda, yes even on the balcony for those living in apartment blocks, can be converted into a productive garden," Bukenya advises.

Some of the crops that can be grown in these urban gardens include


Twaha Kakooza, a famous farmer in Kayunga says a single tomato plant can produce up to 100 tomatoes a season if well looked after. So you need just a few plants at different stages of growth, to produce enough tomatoes for your family.

He says there are two tomato seasons in a year, "But you can actually produce tomatoes continuously irrespective of season, as long as you water and spray them regularly".

A few well maintained tomato plants in your backyard or veranda can save you a lot of money.

All you need are a few plastic containers or sacks. Fill them with fertile black soils. Add some compost manure, also homemade, and then plant your tomatoes.  

A sachet of high yield tomato seeds cost about sh2,500 in Nakivubo container village.


Alex Kiwuwa who works at Kwanda seedlings says a grafted mango seedling costs between sh1, 500 to sh3, 000.

He says if you can spare three square feet in your compound to plant a mango tree, you will be looking forward to every mango season.

If you look after it well, regularly watering and spraying it against pests and diseases, and adding fertilizers, you and your family will enjoy fresh mangoes every season.

Kiwuwa says a single mango tree takes up space of about three square feet. A little manure in the pit will make it grow faster. There are mangoes varieties on the market that can give up to 500 fruits per year.

A well looked after grafted mango starts giving fruits at nine months. However, you need to keep removing these early fruits, until the tree develops a sizeable canopy.


Unknown to most people, the oranges consumed by an average family in a year can be produced by a single tree. All you have to do is find space for that orange tree in your compound and you will forget about buying oranges.

Kiwuwa says some of the grafted varieties can produce between 500 and 1,000 oranges a year. An orange seedling costs between sh2,000 and sh5,000 in most plant nurseries.


Egg plant

The average urban family spends about sh2,000 a week on egg plants. That money can be saved, if a family opts to grow their own egg plants.

Kakooza says what people need to do is to cut up an old plastic jerry can, get black fertile soil and mix it with compost manure. Alternatively you can convert part of your flower garden, into an eggplant garden.


A recent survey around the city showed than less 10% of city dwellers know about sack farming. And yet, it is way city dwellers can reduce their food bill.
All that you need is an old gunny or jute bag, create a few holes in it and then fill it with fertile black soils.

Get seedlings of cabbages and plant them in the holes on the sides of the sack and keep on watering it.

In three months' time, you will start harvesting your cabbages. You can place the sack in any empty space in your compound or even on the veranda.


There are many urban dwellers with idle space along the fences of their compounds. You can use this space to plant a few banana plants.

Isaac Malinga, best farmer 2017 says a banana takes nine months to produce and once it starts, you are guaranteed a bunch every month from one of the three plants in one stand.

Remember, you plant these crops, get involved in their growth, harvest and consume them.