16 August 2016

Pumpkin prices soar amid scarcity

A long dry spell that has persisted in most parts of the country has led to crop failure, leading to a rise in prices of some foodstuffs.
One of these are pumpkins. Though not consumed as a main meal, pumpkins are a major side dish in the diet of many communities; hence increasing their demand. This has pushed many farmers to adopt commercial pumpkin farming.

Besides being food, the crop has become a source of income that has helped boost the country’s agricultural economy.

However, farmers and traders have reported an acute shortage of pumpkins, which they attribute due to the long dry season experienced in April and May. This hindered many farmers from growing the crop.

From planting, pumpkins take four months to mature and harvest and need a lot of water to thrive.
Fauza Nabukeera, who buys pumpkins at farm gate and for sale to retailers and individual customers in Mukono Central Market, says the prices started going up in late June.

“Between May and early June, many farmers had a lot of pumpkins and we were buying them at a farm gate price of Shs500 for a small one and Shs1,000-Shs1,200 for a big one,” she says.
“As traders we were selling a small one at Shs1,500 and between Shs2,000 and Shs3,000 for a big one.”

However, Nabukeera explains, from last month (July), there was a short supply of pumpkins on the market leading to a drastic escalation of prices.
So, they were buying a small pumpkin at a farm gate price of Shs1,500 and a big one at Shs2,000-Shs3,000.

Effects of dry spells
Traders now sell a small pumpkin at Shs2,500-Shs3,000 and a big one at Shs5,000-Shs6,000. In some cases, she says they sell a big one at Shs8,000.
Another trader in St Balikuddembe market in Kampala, Sam Kalenzi, says he sells a big pumpkin at Shs7,000—which is up from Shs4,000 in the month of June—and for a medium size at Shs4,000—up from Shs2,000.
David Ssemukasa, a pumpkin farmer in Kiziika village, Kayunga District, also attributes increase in the prices on the recent lenghty dry spell. It devastated most crops during the previous planting season.
“Despite the current hike, there was a significant price increase between February and April due to the dry spell. During that period, for instance, a big pumpkin was going for a farm gate price of Shs3,500.”

Ssemukasa says because pumpkins do not perish easily when harvested and kept under a shade, farmers can harvest and store them during periods of surplus.
“We have learnt to preserve pumpkins for as long as two months so we can sell them at a good price. This is because a pumpkin can still be good if kept properly,” he says.
However, the projection is that with many farmers growing pumpkins, which are likely to mature between October and November, the prices are likely to fall in that period.

Where they grow
Timothy Njakasi, from Kasenge Riverford Organic Training Centre in Mbalala, Mukono District, notes that pumpkins can be grown in most parts of Uganda. However, he says there are fewer farmers growing them exclusively on a commercial scale.
“Most farmers prefer to grow them mixed with other crops such as cassava, bananas and other crops,” he says.


minimum price for a small-size pumpkin


minimum price for a medium-size pumpkin

minimum price for a large-size pumpkin



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