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Uganda research details how to boost sweet potato seed stock

The Sweet potato is one of the most commonly grown and consumed foods in Uganda. However, a lack of planting materials for most farmers has been the biggest challenge to growers. This is mainly experienced after prolonged drought.

It is common for farmers to use cuttings from the previous season for the next planting, but this is risky because the crop may be infected by disease.

National Agricultural Research Organisation discovered a way by which farmers can multiply their seed stock. It is called rapid multiplication.

To practice rapid multiplication, farmers select a variety that they want to plant and follow the steps below.
  • Remove all leaves except the young ones at the apex and then cut vines into nodes, depending on the portion and age of the vine.
  • The vines are planted in well-drained, fertile soils. They should also be near a water source.
  • Nursery beds should be prepared before cuttings are made. The bed should be 1.2m wide wide, 15-20cm high and 10-20m long.
  • Allow 50cm between beds to ease movement while watering, and then apply manure at a rate of 2.5kg per square metre to optimise plant growth. The nursery beds need to be watered before planting.
  • Plant deep enough to cover at least three quarters of the mini cuttings with nodes facing upwards.
Henry Semakula, a sweet potato, expert says the nursery needs to be properly maintained if you are to get maximum returns. Continue watering twice a day, you may also put a temporary shelter over the nursery bed.

According to Semakula, farmers should remove weeds by hand. He says harvesting for further multiplication should be done two to three months after planting.

Vines should be cut 10-15cm above the ground. The rapid multiplication technique should be widely embraced by sweet potato farmers, especially during times of scarcity of planting materials.

Publication date: 9/26/2017


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