/> engaged in growing chilli (pepper) and egg plants located in Nakatende village in Budaka District. Upon arrival in this village about three kilometres from Mbale town, we are received by Joseph Wambuzi the youth leader who is also an agronomist specialising in horticulture. He takes a team of journalists on a fact finding visit interested in knowledge sharing about agronomy of growing chili for farmers to get bumper harvest. Wambuzi and a team of 11 other youth belong to Nakatende Youth Farmers Association which he initiated in March 2018 after attending skills training sponsored by AVSI at Agromax in Gayaza Kampala.
He takes Seeds of Gold through best practices of growing chili and eggplant and below is the excerpts. What is chilli? Chilli also known as pepper is a plant grown mainly in the tropical region and it grows well in humid and warm climate where the soil has to be moist all the time. It can be harvested throughout the year depending on the availability of water. It is drought resistant and has a high demand on local and export market. The land preparation • It is important to keep the land moist because excessive rainfall can be detrimental as it may cause rotting of the plants. • Black loam soil is best for growing chili and in case of other types of soil, irrigation has to be practiced to keep the soil moist. • Pepper requires well drained soils with a moderate fertility to grow. The plants are tolerant to a pH range from 5.5 to 6.8.
• The seeds have to be raised in a nursery bed and seedlings transplanted into the field after one month. • It is important to plant the seedlings in lines giving spacing of 30cm by 30cm for easy weeding. • Get started for chilli production by setting up a bed. Dig the site meant for planting to make a raised square bed. • Heap up the soil to level it up a bit, then incorporate in animal manure, and also get dry grass and cover it on top. • Light up the grass later and burn completely, this will not only add ash minerals to the bed but it will also kill soil born pests. • Leave the soils to cool before you can put in the seeds. • Make shallow furrows on the bed and then lightly scatter the seeds into the furrows. • Cover them lightly with the soil mixture and also water. • Spray the bed with a fungicide and pesticide to enhance uniform growth. This will also reduce chances of damping off that comes with fungal diseases and foliar easting pests. Transplanting chilli and weeding • Seedlings are ready for transplanting when the leaves have grown between five and eight, usually this is after 30 days of sowing. • Prior to transplanting make sure the bed is watered to avoid stressing the seedlings. • The transfer should also be done in the evening when the weather is cool. • Open up holes 3cm deep, broad cast animal manure in each hole, mix and then plant the seedlings. • Cover the planted seedling with soil and spray the plants with a fungicide and a pesticide. • A spacing of 60-75cm apart within rows and 20cm between plants should be maintained. Watch out for mites, leaf miners, thrips, and blossom end rot when the fruits mature. “Weeding can be done after two weeks from planting and once the plants are grown it is important to prune to avoid overgrowing of leaves. Compost manure is essential during the time of land preparation to boost yield,” Joseph Wambuzi explains. • When planting make 2cm deep holes in rows in which to drop seeds. • Water and spray with a mixture of fungicide and pesticide. • Applying other growing aided chemicals such as easy grow and folia spray to boost its growth. “A spraying interval of two weeks must be adopted up to three weeks before harvesting,” the agronomist says. Pests and diseases The plant has challenges of pests such as thrips, mites, aphids and pod borers among others which can be controlled using processed neem seed mixed with water and sprinkled on the plants.