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Grower William Kwezi sells car to build his own greenhouse

Uganda: Greenhouse gives veg grower better yields, more cash

William Kwezi lives in Gayaza, Wakiso District. He has been doing a lot of farming for the last 15 years but four years ago, he decided to start using greenhouses. He now grows horticultural crops including tomatoes, sweet pepper and cucumber. "In open-field cultivation, weather imbalances have a huge impact on productivity," he said. "You cannot be sure of how much you will harvest. Sometimes, there is a lot of sunshine, and sometimes a lot of rain. These changes can result in huge crop losses. But with greenhouses, everything is controlled. I control the temperatures, the water supply, and everything else. I know what to expect from my greenhouse."

Using local materials for greenhouses

"I build the greenhouses myself using local materials. Where some people use metal for poles, I use eucalyptus. I have also been building greenhouses for other farmers."

"The only materials I buy from the shop are the sheets, which come in a kit. The kit covers an area of 160 square metres; this is a greenhouse of 20 by 8 metres. This kit costs about Shs2.2m at Nsanja Agrochemicals Ltd. I employ 10 people. These include plumbers, carpenters and casual labourers. It costs me about Shs 700,000 in labour to put up one greenhouse."

Challenges in greenhouse farming

"The challenges we face with greenhouses include wind, which can blow them down, and capital. You need at least Shs6.5m to build a greenhouse and have it stocked with crops. And you still have to spend more money on fertilizers and pesticides. We spray pesticides every week to kill pests while for weeds, we suppress their growth.

When I was starting, I sold my car and added on my savings to raise Shs6.2m to complete my first greenhouse. The other thing is that if one does not have enough knowledge about greenhouse farming, they will find challenges. You have to manage it very well, control temperatures, irrigation and so on.

Options for those with little capital
Those with less money have the option of using net-sheds or open-drip irrigation to practice at least some organized farming. This will give them better yields than the usual practice of solely depending on rainfall. A net-shed, for example, shields crops from direct sunshine.

Mid-day sunshine can be so rough. It makes the crops lose a lot of water. The shed reduces the sunshine reaching the crop by 35 per cent. You can also employ drip-lane irrigation in a net shed. To set up a net-shed, you use 40 per cent less the cost of a greenhouse. This is affordable for many farmers.

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Publication date: 3/28/2013



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