Ugu Farm:Recently, ugu farming (pumpkin leaf) has proven to be a great financial success in Nigeria due to increased awareness of its potential for income generation.
In the past, a lot of people who planted pumpkins did so just for their own purposes (subsistence farming). But as civilization and technology advanced, more people became aware of the commercial potential of ugu cultivation and started their own farms. You too can start yours and profit from it.
The term “ugu” was first used by a group of people known as “the Igbos” in the Eastern tribe of Nigeria. In Akwa Ibom State, the pumpkin leaf is also known as “nkong ubong.” It is a delicious green vegetable that is grown from ugu seeds. In several regions of the nation, ugu is frequently used to prepare soups and other dishes. Its fluid is also extracted and consumed as medicine by mixing it with items like milk, tomatoes, and maltina drink.
Ugu has a sizable market since it is widely consumed; the food industry is profitable.
Why Should You Venture Into The Ugu Farming Business?
• It requires a short-term planting period. This means that you can easily get ROI (return on investment) in the shortest possible time.
• It sells regardless of the season you plant it.
• It requires little to no experience to start.
• You will make good profit because you can plant it 3 times in a year.
Land Preparation In Ugu Farming
You can equally opt to making bed for your ugu plant. The manure you add to it must have been already treated.
Preparing Ugu Seeds For Planting
Successful drying of the seeds helps them to be:
• Resist pest that can eat them in the soil,
• Avoid decaying.
Never make the mistake of sun drying the seeds that are sprouting, the sun will burn them all.
Planting Of Ugu Vegetable
Dig a hole of 4-5cm into the soil and plant the ugu by placing it with the mouth buried into the soil. Cover the hole with little sand; make sure the ugu is well covered to prevent exposure to the sun. The seed spacing should be between 500cm-1m. A hectare of land will require 10,000 seeds but an acre will require only 4,000 seeds.
It gets interesting:
Do you know that you can get four seedlings out of a single ugu seed? Here is how to do it;
• Take a bucket and fill it with a mixture of saw dust and compost manure, put in the ugu seeds and cover. You should bring them out after 5-7 days, then break the seedlings into 2 sides each and further cut them into 2 with knife but make sure each has roots in them.
• Plant them again in your bucket and then transfer them to your main farmland on the 8 day after which they must have germinated.
Irrigation In Ugu Farm
In fact using an intensive irrigation system is required during this period.
You can drill a well or borehole as a cheap source of water. But if your farm is situated beside a river bank, you are lucky as this is an added advantage to you. I recommend you try out the drip and sprinkler irrigation.
Manual weeding is best because the use of herbicides may not be successful due to the crawling nature of the ugu plant; it has a pattern of covering the ground.
Extra care should be taken to avoid trampling on the ugu plant because to successfully do weeding a second time, you will have to lift each ugu leave up.
A lot of diseases that take its toil on ugu are usually transmitted airborne and most of the insects are boring ones e.g. caterpillar.
To eradicate pest and insect, you should mix fungicide and insecticide in small quantity. Examples of such insecticides to use for effective control include but not limited to scorpion, sharp shooter, and maxi-force etc.
Organically, you can make use of a mixture of neem oil and water to spray on your ugu plant or you soak neem leaves in water for 10 or more days and sprinkle on your farm evenly.
Since harvesting is done consistently, there is need to add enough quantity of manure so that the ugu can keep growing well.
Profitability In Ugu Farming
Ugu farming is a very lucrative business when you follow the proper farming management practice. You can make as much as 100 times your investment as returns.
If you spend ₦300,000 on an acre of land to plant ugu, you can get up to ₦800,000 in profit. You can do the planting once after that you will be harvesting every 3 days or 3 times a week for about 3 months.
Within a month, excluding land and other costs, you can make the money you invested.
It gets better:
No part of the ugu plant is waste, because:
• The fresh leaves can be harvested for sale and the hard ones can be used for cooking varieties of soups as well. This kind of soup is a delicacy amongst Akwa Ibom people. The hard ugu is cut, pounded and washed with water, leaving only the leaves for cooking.
• Ugu seeds can be boiled and eaten as food
• The pods can be sold for money. You can bring the seeds out and sell it that way. A seed is sold for the price of ₦50 or more depending on location and season. Imagine if each pod is to contain 10,000 seeds or more. A pod contains an average of 58 seeds; it can be more for the bigger pods, up to 100 and 40 for the smaller pods.
After each sale, you can restock your farm or expanding by keeping aside some of the healthiest seeds out of your harvested pods.
To maximize profits, ugu farming is practised during the dry season. During this period, you can make 4 times the amount you would have made during raining season. This is why majority of ugu farmers prepare themselves for aggressive dry season.
How Long Would It Take Before Clearing My Ugu Farm?
How can I harvest properly? Easy, use your hand to cut the stem a little distance away from the bottom of the stem. Endeavor to position your hands where you have the nodes and you can cut.
You can use a knife to cut if you are an inexperienced hand cutter. The pod becomes ripe for harvest when the tendrils are dried; sometimes they fall off on their own. But if they do not fall, you have to cut them off.
A single stem of ugu can produce 1 pod or more and if the pollination was done properly, there are chances that about 75% of the stem will produce.
Ugu Farming With Other Vegetables
If you are planting the hybrid seed of ugu, you don’t have to create a trellis for the ugu plant because they are well positioned to grow underground but if you are going for the local breeds, you have to do trellis on them if indeed you need the pods.
Benefits Of Ugu Leaves And Seeds
• It reduces cholesterol and contains antioxidants.
• Ugu contains elements that lower glucose. This prevents diabetes
• The oil extracted from the seeds is good in semen improvement.
If you have 30 beds, and carry out harvest every 3 weeks on a single, you make an average of ₦8,000. Now, 30 multiplied by ₦8000 is equal to ₦240,000. You too can achieve that even more if you determine.