Irish potato farming has become a major source of income for many farmers in Uganda. The crop is not native to the country but was introduced by British colonialists in the early 1900s. Since then, it has become a popular crop among farmers, especially in high-altitude areas where the climate is favorable for potato production.
One such area is Kabale, located in southwestern Uganda. The region’s high altitude, abundant rainfall, and cool temperatures make it an ideal place for potato farming. The area has become known as the “potato belt” of Uganda, with many farmers specializing in the crop.
I had the opportunity to visit some of these farmers in Kabale and witness their potato farming practices firsthand. The farmers here mainly use the traditional farming methods, such as hand planting and hand harvesting, which are labor-intensive but produce high-quality potatoes.
The farmers explained to me that they first prepare the land by tilling the soil and removing any weeds or debris. They then plant the potatoes using the “ridging” method, where they create mounds of soil to plant the seed potatoes. This helps with drainage and prevents the potatoes from getting waterlogged.
After planting, the farmers have to be vigilant in protecting their crop from pests and diseases. The most common potato disease in Uganda is late blight, which can cause significant crop losses. To prevent this, farmers often use fungicides and practice crop rotation to keep the soil healthy.
Once the potatoes are ready for harvest, the farmers carefully dig them out of the ground and sort them by size and quality. They then sell them in local markets or to traders who transport them to other parts of Uganda or neighboring countries like Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Irish potato farming has not only provided a source of income for farmers in Kabale but has also helped to improve food security in the region. Potatoes are a staple food in Uganda and are a good source of carbohydrates and other nutrients. By producing more potatoes, farmers can feed their families and sell the surplus to earn additional income.
In conclusion, Irish potato farming has become an essential part of agriculture in Uganda, especially in high-altitude areas like Kabale. With traditional farming methods and modern pest management techniques, farmers can produce high-quality potatoes that are in demand both locally and regionally.
Agri-preneur & Knowledge Exchange Specialist.