Step-by-Step Guide to Ugwu Farming in Nigeria
Step-by-Step Guide to Ugwu Farming in Nigeria: Ugwu is often referred to as the Fluted Pumpkin. It is a vine native to West Africa that is extremely popular and heavily consumed in many places of Nigeria. At least a quarter of the Nigerian population consumes ugwu leaves. Whether wealthy or impoverished, ugwu is a cheap option for a large number of households. It is commonly used to make soups such as egusi, ogbono, and edi kain kong. Additionally, it is utilized in the creation of herbal medications and is effective against common disorders such as malaria and anemia. The seeds are edible, and the oil extracted from them can be utilized in cooking and soap production.
Consuming ugwu leaves in your meals has a number of natural advantages. Ugwu is a natural hematinic and immunological enhancer due to its iron concentration. Additionally, the leaves contain blood sugar-lowering properties and can be included in diabetics’ diets. Additionally, the ugwu plant is abundant in phosphorus and may help avoid renal illness.
Step-by-Step Guide to Ugwu Farming in Nigeria
This vegetable contains antibacterial properties; more specifically, the root of the plant contains antiplasmodial and schizonticidal properties; as a result, it can be used to treat parasite illnesses such as malaria. The raw leaves can be mixed with milk to assist those who suffer from low blood pressure. Additionally, the seeds can be consumed whole or pulverized and used to make soup or porridge. The seed is extremely nutritious and protein-dense. Anti-oxidant effects of pumpkin seed oil have been connected to the treatment of infertility.
Now that you’ve learned a little about this remarkable food plant, the next logical step is to learn how to cultivate it. Interestingly, it is not a tough task, and we have simplified the process for you with our step-by-step instruction. You can simply become a commercial ugwu merchant by following these five simple steps. However, if you do not wish to take that path, you can still plant as much ugwu as your family requires for survival with a very small initial expenditure.
Therefore, the question you should be asking is, “How do I proceed?”
SELECTION OF THE SITE
You’ll need a plot of land with specific characteristics. To begin, the soil’s pH should be neutral, i.e. 6.5-7. A pH meter can be used to determine the soil pH. Additionally, the ground should receive a enough amount of sunlight. These two factors are crucial for your ugwu plant’s growth.
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You may be asking what size harvest you should have regardless of the size of your acreage. In general, the size of your harvest is determined by the area of your property. However, you do not need a large piece to begin planting; you can begin with what you have.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of ugwu is that it may be planted nearly everywhere in the country. While perfect circumstances for development exist, the ugwu plant is exceptional in its capacity to withstand drought and even thrive in poor soil. However, one critical aspect of the soil is that it must be well drained. Ugwu does not thrive on wet soil.
PREPARATION OF THE LAND
Following site selection, you’ll need to clear the farmland and apply organic manure two weeks prior to planting. Apply fertilizer one month after your plants begin to germinate. On the farm, the ideal fertilizer to use is a nitrogenous one such as urea. The urea stimulates rapid leaf development. Another alternative is to apply the NPK fertilizer in a 15:15:15 ratio.
SOURCING AND PREPARATION OF SEEDS
The following step is to purchase the seeds you require. You can either obtain the seed pods or purchase dried seeds at a nearby store. Additionally, you can obtain it from other farmers who own ugwu farms. Once you’ve obtained your pumpkin pods, you can scoop out the seeds in preparation for planting. A single pumpkin pod can yield up to a hundred seeds. Often, the seeds have some tasty meat and are surrounded by threads. You must remove this meat prior to planting. Failure to do so may result in the seed rotting in the soil. Remove the seeds by placing them in a sieve and running water through it. While doing so, use your finger to scrape away any juicy flesh or strings. This, however, is true only for fresh seeds. If you purchased dried seeds, you can skip this section.
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The next phase is sun drying. The procedure can take up to seven days. Prior to planting, it is critical to allow adequate sun drying. The technique aids in the reduction of moisture and promotes germination. Additionally, you can treat the seeds with a mixture of insecticide and fungicide to protect them from insect and fungal attack.
Between April and May is the optimal planting season for the ugwu plant. During this time period, rainfall is low, and the plant thrives in such wet conditions. Plant the seeds one foot apart in the soil. The seed should be inserted vertically into the soil, with the pointy edge pointing upwards. The planting depth should not be excessive. Your seed should be between 15 and 25cm deep.
You must water your seedlings daily for at least two weeks. Plants typically germinate after 1 to 2 weeks. Additionally, weeding should be performed every two weeks to guarantee that the growing plant does not go without water or important nutrients.
Additionally, you should keep goats and herbivores away from your property. These creatures are infamous for wreaking havoc on ugwu farms. Additionally, there are several common bugs that attack ugwu leaves. Grasshoppers, beetles, aphids, thrips, and green shield bugs are all examples of these. White leaf spot disease and telferia mosaic virus are two diseases that harm the leaves. Certain fungal diseases might harm the seeds during storage, rendering them worthless. To protect the seeds from insect and fungal attack, you can spray them with insecticide-fungicide.
Once the plant begins to germinate, place a stick, preferably between 1 and 2 meters in length, next to the plant. After a while, the plant will begin to climb the stick’s circumference. Generally, plants that are aided in their growth by sticks perform better than those that are not. Staking aids in disease prevention, particularly during the rainy season; nevertheless, staking is not required in commercial ugwu growing.
Vine topping is a significant cultural activity in ugwu farming. This is done to promote the vine’s branch and lateral growth. This can be accomplished by counting eight to ten leaf notches from the top and then cutting them off with a knife.
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This is normally done three to five weeks following planting or germination. This technique is critical since it contributes to your farm’s production and output growth. General pruning one month after germination is an option to this strategy. This will also accelerate growth and increase the size of your harvest.
1 month after planting, you can begin collecting your ugwu leaves. However, when harvesting in commercial numbers, it is recommended to wait 60 days before harvesting. For eight months, the plant can be harvested again. This can be repeated at 15-day intervals. Seeds are not produced by the Ugwu plant until six months after planting.
We’ve compiled a list of five critical points to remember from this step-by-step approach.
Ugwu is a popular vegetable in Nigeria and a staple food for the Yoruba and Igbo tribes.
This plant provides a variety of health benefits both raw and cooked, and has been proved to benefit anemics and diabetics.
You do not need to be a farmer to cultivate this plant; all you need is the proper information on how to do it.
Harvesting begins approximately one month after planting, and you can continue harvesting for up to eight months following the original harvest.
Ugwu farming is quite economical, and whether you’re planting for subsistence or commercial purposes, you’re likely to experience high returns on your original investment.