How You Can Be Making As Much As ₦800,000 From An Ugu Farm

What does it take to begin a pumpkin farm in Nigeria? Pumpkin or ugu, a vegetable common in most parts of Africa, Nigeria to be precise...

Ugu Farming
The awareness in the creation of income through ugu farming (pumpkin leaf) has turned out to be a huge business success recently in Nigeria.
In the past times, a lot of people who did pumpkin planting were planting it for personal use only (subsistence farming).  However, thanks to technology and spread of civilization, many people have discovered business opportunities in ugu farming and have begun their own farm. You too can begin yours and still make money from it.

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The word “ugu” originated from the Eastern tribe of Nigeria by a group of people called “the Igbos’”. The pumpkin leave is also referred to as “nkong ubong” in Akwa Ibom State. It is a yummy green vegetable gotten from the planting of ugu seeds. Ugu is popularly used to cook soups and pottage foods in many parts of the country. People also extract its fluid (mixing it with other things such as maltina drink, milk, tomatoes etc.) to consume for medicinal purposes.

The ready market for ugu cannot be argued because it is widely consumed; food business is good business.

Why Should You Venture Into The Ugu Farming Business?

  • Vegetables are generally high in demand because of its rate of consumption. In Nigeria, ugu leaves are the highest consumed vegetable seconded by waterleaf. This makes the market for these greens very high.
  • 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

The ugu plant does so well on a sandy-loamy soil. You can begin by first clearing away every debris and stump from the farmland you are using. After doing that, till the soil till it is easy for quick penetration of roots, well aerated and can lead to proper germination of the seed. Add the organic manure(pig dung, goat, chicken, cow etc.) to the soil if that is what you are using.
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

To prepare your ugu seed for planting, cut the ugu pod in half, take out its seeds and sundry them for only a day or two, never allow them to become over dried in other to maintain the life of the seed. 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.

Panting Of Ugu Vegetable

Now that the soil is ready; you can plant. You should do this very early in the morning or late evening when the weather is cool and calm. Plant 2-3 seeds per hole.
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

After you are done planting the seeds, start irrigating the ugu farm every two days in the morning and evening. You should only stop irrigation when the rains come but do not stop irrigation during dry season or drought. 
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.

Weeding/Pest Control

You need to start weeding as early as possible, because if you delay weeding, the vegie leaves will turn yellow in colour as the weeds feed on the nutrients on the soil too. Ugu leaves that are deficient in nitrogen can change their colour from green to yellow too.
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. 

Fertilizer Application

You should apply livestock or human dung on the farm before planting, after the 4th, 5th week and 6th week. If you’d prefer inorganic fertilizer, I recommend NPK 15 15 15 and urea. But organic fertilizer has proven to be the safest and the best in maximizing productivity.
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 N300,000 on an acre of land to plant ugu, you can get up to N800,000 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 N50 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?

Only a few farmers plant ugu for the pods. If you plan to do this too, harvesting of the ugu plant should be reduced to only 3 times. If you plan to harvest every bit of the plant, you should be careful in harvesting the pods when they are out so as not to destroy them. You should only cut the ugu that have flowers because they will never fruit. You can clear the area for another planting period after the pods are matured.

Harvesting

You should begin harvesting two weeks after planting or when the green stems are long;
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.

Marketability

Look around you. The market potential is huge because people will come looking for you to buy. Do you know that the demand for this yummy vegie is 10times higher than its supply? You can easily get buyers by reaching out to bukas, market women, hotels, restaurants, and eateries to sell to, they buy in bulk.
Feed your ugu plant to grow well because consumers prefer ugu that are fresh, dark green with wide or big leaves.

Ugu Farming With Other Vegetables

You can plant other greens like waterleaf, scent leaf, curry leaf, spinach etc. on the ugu farm without worries. This will also provide profits because they don’t command different treatment other than the ones given to ugu vegetable.
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

  • Ugu boosts the haemoglobin levels in the human body, that’s why most locals call it ‘blood tonic’.
  • 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.
IN CONCLUSION
A lot of people don’t bother to raise beds which are not bad depending on the kind of soil and environment. Beds may not be necessary in some parts of Nigeria. But for proper management and increased profits (ROI), raising of beds cannot be ignored.
If you have 30 beds, and carry out harvest every 3 weeks on a single, you make an average of N8,000. Now, 30 multiplied by N8000 is equal to N240,000. You too can achieve that even more if you determine.

About The Author
Balogun Owomide has a huge passion for spreading motivation, business and personal finance. He blogs on how to make money, a finance blog on topics ranging from motivation, startup ideas, to small business financing and loans, business plans, marketing and franchise opportunities. You can reach him on Facebook at Balogun Owomide.

Editor's Remark
This is a guest post from one of our readers, Balogun Owomide. You too can submit yours.
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Information Guide Africa: How You Can Be Making As Much As ₦800,000 From An Ugu Farm
How You Can Be Making As Much As ₦800,000 From An Ugu Farm
What does it take to begin a pumpkin farm in Nigeria? Pumpkin or ugu, a vegetable common in most parts of Africa, Nigeria to be precise...
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