Growing Irish potatoes in Uganda

Irish potatoes bring in good money for as long as you have the right seeds. They are mainly grown in the south western part of the country in Kabale, Kasese, Mityana, Mubende and it is also grown in kapchorwa. It should be noted that Irish grows better in areas that do not have water logged soil and floods a lot. Below are some of the steps that you need to start an Irish potato farm in Uganda.

irish potato farming

Select the suitable site for the farm

Potatoes can grow in any type of soil for as long as there is access to enough sunlight. Although it can grow in any type of soil the best ones are the sandy loamy soils that are rich in organic matter. The site that you should choose should have the soils that have the above features and it should also be well drained and the soils should be well aerated. The soils should also have a PH range of 5 to 6.4.

The land needs to be well prepared and this involves extensive ground preparation. You need to clear the farm of all the debris in it and also plough it to make it smooth and ready for the planting of the potatoes. You need to plough at least three times before the initial planting, and harrow the soil until it reaches the suitable aerated state.

The next step after ploughing and harrowing mix organic manure and other fertilizers in the soil both in the main garden and the seedbed

Market research

Since there are different types of Irish potatoes that are grown in the country, you need to first carry out a market research and find out whether the variety that you are planning on farming has a large market. Potential clients include markets, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and they can also be exported to other countries. Some of the things that you should consider when carrying out market research include, the price you will be selling the Irish once you harvest, transportation and for how long you will be supplying them with the Irish. They will of course need to first see a sample of the potatoes before any purchase is made.

irish potatoes uganda

Choosing the variety of potatoes

There are numerous potato varieties that are planted in the country and these can be differentiated by the texture, shape, texture, colour, taste and size. There are potato varieties that are good for cooking and there are others that are good for making potato wedges.  You need to find out which variety your clients want and then plant those.  Make sure that you choose varieties that are disease resistant, quality of the potato seeds and take little time to reach maturity.

Planting of the Irish potatoes

Irish potatoes require seed propagation unlike their counterparts the sweet potatoes which grow from stems. You need to add potassium and nitrogen as this helps in adding nutrients to the soil. When they start sprouting, you will need to also add more fertilizers so that you get healthy tubers at the end of the season.  You can as well use organic fertilizers that are animal waste to add nutrients to the soil.

The average amount that you can use for preparing the land is at least shs 450, 000.

After making sure the soil is ready for potato planting, dig holes that are about 6 inches deep and 10 to 17 inches apart. Place the potato seeds into the holes before covering the holes with 2 inches of soil.

Water the plants immediately after planting but make sure that the soil never dries and it should also not be waterlogged. Continue watering until they start sprouting out of the ground and then add mulches to keep the soil moist. The potatoes should not be exposed to sunlight as they will turn green and become too toxic.

Harvesting of Irish potatoes

Harvesting of Irish potatoes mainly depends on the season, weather conditions and the size of the potatoes being harvested. They are always ready for harvest after 3 to 4 months after the initial planting but one of the ways you can tell that they are ready for harvest is when the vines begin to dry and die out. When the vines turn to brown, the potatoes are ready for harvesting and harvesting should be done on a sunny day.

Harvesting of potatoes is done when the soil is moist because this helps in avoiding abrasion of the potatoes.  After harvesting, the potatoes should be left to dry in the field before being collected and placed in a cool dry place that has shade. Potatoes that are meant for food should be kept in a cool place and should not be kept under the sunlight for more than two hours as this will make them become poisonous and toxic. Potatoes that are meant to act as seeds should be kept in a place where they can easily grow sprouts before the next season of planting.

Reasons as to why you should grow Irish potatoes

  • Irish potatoes act as food to livestock. You can feed your livestock with potatoes that are damaged or too small for human consumption but you will need to first steam them or cut them into small pieces when they are raw and then serve the animals.
  • They are used as specimens for finding out more about characteristics of the crop
  • Flour got from potatoes is used in making processed foods like bread, cookies, biscuits and baby food
  • Potatoes are used by brewery companies in making vodka.

The best way in which you can learn how to grow Irish potatoes is by learning directly from a practicing farmer. They tell you the dos and don’ts of planting Irish and you will also get hands on knowledge about how to care for the crops until they are ready for harvesting.  Farmers are also advised to wash their hands thoroughly before getting into the farm in order to limit the spread of diseases.