The fluted pumpkin which is also known popularly in Nigeria as Ugwu leaf is a fast selling local commodity that grows very fast from the time of planting to harvesting.
It is a native plant to West Africa and is mostly grown and consumed in Nigeria. It is particularly popular in the country because of its essential quality, health benefits, rich taste, and affordable cost for all classes of citizens.
The health benefits of this wonder leaf are innumerable, and its benefits cut across all ages and different cultures, making it one of Nigeria’s most consumed vegetables.
If you’re looking for a fast-selling agro-commodity to venture into, starting an ugwu farming business in Nigeria is a great route to take.
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What Is Flutted Pumpkin (Ugwu Leaf)?
Fluted pumpkin is a tropical plant grown in West Africa as a leaf vegetable and its edible seeds. Its common local names include Ugwu and Ikong-Ubong and it is a member of the family Cucurbitaceae, indigenous to southern Nigeria.
What Is Ugwu Vegetable Farming?
Ugwu vegetable farming is the cultivation of the ugwu plant (flutted pumpkin) for local consumption, commercial purposes and exportation.
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Business Opportunities In Ugwu Vegetable Farming In Nigeria
1). Source Of Food:
It is one of the most consumed vegetables in Nigeria and has been used as the main ingredient in cooking many delicacies in Nigeria
2). Source Of Animal feed:
The stems and the almost dried up leaves are used as a source of feed for farm animals like goats and sheep.
3). Used As Medicine:
Ugwu vegetable has been know to be a source of medicine for many generations in Nigeria. It is said to help stabilise blood pressure reduce the chances of cancer and help cure so many other illnesses
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Facts And Benefits Of Ugwu vegetable
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) has blood-purifying properties and has been used as a tonic for the young and old alike
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps treat Anemia
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) is good for the digestive system
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin)t helps prevent cancer
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps treat infertility
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps treat Cardiovascular Diseases.
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps treat malaria
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps prevent diabetics
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps prevent kidney diseases
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps improve lactation for nursing mothers
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps ease nerves and reduces stress
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin)t helps prevent dementia
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps improve the immune system
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps form healthy bones and teeth
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) helps control convolution
- Ugwu leaf (flutted pumpkin) improves memory
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How To Start Ugwu Vegetable Farming In Nigeria
1). Planting of The Pumpkin:
The best time to start planting fluted pumpkin is between April and May because, during this period, the rains are at very low levels and an acre of land would need about 4,000 seeds.
It’s best to plant the seeds at a distance of about two to three feet apart. This should be done very early in the morning or later in the evening.
You can also start planting your flutted pumpkin seeds (ugwu) when the weather is very cool and calm, with a maximum of about two to three seeds per hole.
Ensure that you dig a hole of about 4-5cm and then plant the seed with its tip facing down. You should then cover the seed with a little soil and with little exposure to sunlight
After around ten days, place a stick of between 1 meter to 2 meters in height close to the pumpkin seed. Now, as the plant grows, it will climb around the stick.
It is also better to use sticks because the plants will grow better when they climb around something, or anything.
2). Irrigation of The Pumpkin Plants:
After planting the Ugwu seeds, start irrigating the farm and its surroundings once every two days in the mornings and the evenings.
Irrigating or wetting with water is not necessary during the rainy seasons, but during dry seasons or droughts, intensive irrigation is required. This means that you need a steady source of water, either borehole water, well water, or water from a stream/river.
Pumpkin plants require frequent watering to keep growing and staying green.
3). Weeding/Pest Control:
Weed prevention methods used are mulching, herbicides, as well as manual weed removal. Mulching entails covering the plants with sawdust, nylon, or other materials to help increase moisture and suppress the weeds infestation. Early weeding is the best practise if herbicides and mulching are not applied.
4). Maturity And Harvesting:
With adequate water, pumpkins germinate ten days after planting. Farmers can then start harvesting within two to four weeks of planting or when the stems are long and robust.
Farmers should use knives or hand to cut the stem a little distance from the bottom of the stem. Placing your hands where you have the nodes and cut.
The pods are ripe for harvest when the tendrils are dried up, or they fall off.
With a lot of water and little manure, the vegetable would do well. It’s wise to plant a lot of seeds during the dry seasons.
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Challenges of Ugwu Farming In Nigeria
Here are some challenges that can affect starting ugwu vegetable farming in Nigeria, Africa, or many other places around the world:
- Pest and diseases
- Lack of government support
- Lack of funding for large scale production
- Lack of a highly favourable market
- Lack of highly equipped storage facilities
- Lack of efficient production mechanisms
- Not popularly known
- Absence of a vast ready market
- Poor funding of research activities
- Bush burning
- Lack of capital for large scale production
- Lack of easy access to the international market
- Instability of the international market price
- Lack of adequate widespread knowledge on how to produce high-quality products
- Lack of funds to import international standard processing machinery
- Thieves and criminals
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To Sum It Up
The ugwu vegetable farming business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and on your own ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for a farming business to venture into, the ugwu vegetable farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.
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