Ugwu, botanically known as Telfaria is an African plant. It is one of the common vegetables in Nigeria; it contains many nutrients which are beneficial to human health. In Nigeria, ugwu farming is majorly cultivated on large expanse of land because of its high demand especially during the dry season when most farmers do not have access to water or irrigation equipments.
However, due to decrease of farming lands due to urbanization and also rejection of farming by youths, ugwu farming can also be done in sacks or buckets. This is an easier way to cultivate the plant at nearer locations such as backyards and urban centres.
Cultivating Ugwu farming during the dry season (no presence of rainfall) is a sure bet to increase returns on investment but must be done professionally through the use of irrigation. The irrigation can either be spray tube/hose irrigation, drip irrigation or manual watering irrigation.
The major goal is to make water available to the ugwu plants as at when due for proper growth and development. Choosing the best irrigation type should not be based on cost alone but many other factors which are source of water, land topography, staff skill, land history and others.
After irrigation type has be well considered, then other 7 steps are followed and they are:
- Site selection.
- Land preparation.
- Pre-planting operation.
- Planting operation.
- Seed germination.
- Post planting operations.
- Pest Control
Commercial Dry Season Ugwu Farming Guide
In selecting land/site for ugwu farming, one must be careful of the location as many other factors must be considered before choosing the land. After site inspection, road accessibility, nearness to water source and labor must be done.
The soil must be a well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter with a neutral pH. The soil must not have high percentage of sand and must not be a waterlogged soil. It must be well drained and high in nutrient for growth and development.
After the land has been carefully chosen, the land has to be prepared, it has to be cleared and the stumps have to be removed to make the land free from weeds. After these are done, the plot has to be marked-out to know the portion where the seeds would be planted. There are two approaches to planting ugwu seeds;
- Planting using dibbling method: In this method, the soil is just scooped and the seeds are inserted into the soil. The soil is not tilled.
- Planting on beds: in this method, nursery beds are constructed, the land is tilled and pulverized. Raised beds of about 4m by 4m are constructed across the slope of the land to reduce the risk of erosion. The raised bed can also be 1m by 1m so that it can allow easy passage for workers, irrigation equipments and other farm tools.
While preparing the raised bed, it is important that the farmer incorporate dry manure, specifically poultry waste into the soil before planting and left for a week. This will increase the organic matter in the soil and provide nutrient to the ugwu plant.
Before planting, the pod (where is seeds are embedded) is procured, the pod contains many seeds. Matured seeds are extracted and air dried for about 24 hours before planting, immature seeds are flat and without cotyledon and are to be discarded.
After extracting the seeds, the seed can be treated with insecticide-fungicide mixture to prevent the seeds from insects and fungi attack. A farmer can also purchase dried and treated seeds or seedlings and plant.
Planting ugwu seeds is a technical operation as one must be careful to ensure the right side is inserted into the soil. When the seeds are successfully dried up, a pointed edge is noticed at the top of the seeds.
This pointed edge is the portion that must be inserted into the soil at a depth of 3-5cm. Any mistake in the mode of planting could adversely affect the seedlings emergence.
The pointed edge should be identified and ensure it points downward during planting on the field at a spacing of 1m by 1m.
There are many seeds available to sow but it is important to purchase a very good seed that will sprout large leaves (ugwu leave is the economical part of the plant.
The seeds should be Well-treated while germination should be expected at about 10 days to 12 days after planting. Aside seed purchase, seedlings and pods can also be purchased.
The seeds are removed from the pods, washed before its planted in the nursery while the purchased seedling should be planted directly to the the soil.
Post planting operations:
After the planting and emergence of the seedlings, certain operations have to be put done to salvage the seedlings to harvesting period, they include;
Watering: The seedlings have to be watered daily for the first two weeks of emergence to enable them grow well.
Weeding: Weeds have to be managed to guide against competition on water, nutrients etc. with the seedlings. Weeding should be done every two weeks and by the 6th week, ugwu plants must have serve as cover crop on the ground and hinders weed growth.
Fertilizer application: A nitrogenous fertilizer such as urea is the best to apply on ugwu farm, because ugwu is a leafy plant and such fertilizer enhances the growth of the vegetative parts or leaves of plant. However, NPK 15:15:15 could be applied.
Another source of fertilizer is organic manure such as cow dung, poultry waste and other animal waste. The best organic matter is poultry waste because it has the highest nitrogen content which serves as chlorophyll formation in plants.
Staking: Ugwu plant is known to be a climber and not a creeping plant. A raised platform is constructed above the plant so that it can easily climb and have a fast growth and development.
This style is done if it’s a subsistence type of farming in commercial ugwu farm, staking is not encouraged as it distort the growth habit and could reduce the potential yield on the farm.
Control of pest:
Pest such as leaf defoliators and some pathogenic infections are often noticed. This can be controlled biologically by boiling neem leaves (Dongoyaro) and spraying the extracts in the leaves for a period of two weeks or using pesticide such as Laraforce.
Ugwu can be harvested after about 30 days of planting. However on commercial basis it is advised to harvest at about 60 days of planting, ugwu can be harvested repeatedly for about eight months at an interval of 15 days.
The leaf of Ugwu is the economic part that is demanded for consumption by human and animals. It is loved by the people from eastern part of Nigeria and Igbo’s in diasporas. Ugwu leaf is now consumed by other tribes in Nigeria and Africa because of its high chlorophyll content.
The market demand is year round and competes well with other leafy vegetables. It is however not profitable compared to the commercial dry season ugwu farming. The price during the dry season is always over 60% of the price during the dry season.
See also: Micro spray tube irrigation kit for SALE
It is important to know that sales of Ugwu farming has its complexity as it is important to carry out market research first and feasibility study of each target market before production.
Do you want to be trained in Ugwu farming (either dry season or rainy season)? Or you want to setup ugwu farming as a side business or second income business? Contact us today and begin to journey earning from ugwu farming.
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