We employ the most appropriate methods in producing Ugu .
Ugu (fluted pumpkin) , has the botanical name Telfairia occidentalis . It is a tropical vine grown in West Africa. This is an indigenous vegetable crop in Africa. It is called fluted pumpkin. Ugu plant is cultivated mainly for it’s leaves. It is a major part of African delicacies. The commercial cultivation of Ugu is so lucrative as Ugu vegetables are short term cash flow that requires little or no capital to cultivate.
They are edible when boiled or cooked with foods. It can also be taken as a vegetable salad or as juice when mashed as fresh leaves and the juice extracted. It contains calcium, iron, potassium and manganese. It also provides a good amount of vitamin C, A, B2, and E. The seeds produced by the gourd are high in protein and fat, and therefore, contribute to a balanced diet.
We at Ugu Famers Association carry out pre-planting and post-planting operations to ensure a suitable operation. The basic steps we take in establishing success in ugu farming include;
- Site selection: We use a well drained loamy soil that is rich in organic matter with a neutral pH for growing Ugu.
- Bed-making (7 by 10 by 0.5 ft).
- Spraying of herbicides third day after planting.
- Broadcasting chicken droppings on beds next day.
- Germination exactly one week from planting day.
- Spraying of fertiizer two weeks from day of germination.
- Spraying of preferred pesticides next day.
- First general cutting four weeks from day of germination.
- Spraying of fertilizer next day.
- Spraying of preferred pesticide next day.
- First harvest, two months from day of germination.
- To be harvested every fortnight from then.
After the emergence of the seedlings, there are certain post-planting operations that must be done to salvage the seedlings to harvesting period. They include;
- Watering the Ugu: We water seedlings daily for the first two weeks of emergence to enable them to grow well
- Weeding of Ugu farm: We ensure to manage the weeds to guide against the competition on water, nutrients etc, with the seedlings. This is done every two weeks.
- Fertilizer application on Ugu: We use a nitrogenous fertilizer preferably an organic one to help enhance the growth of the vegetative parts or leaves of the plant.
- Control of pests in Ugu farm: We spray neem oil on the leaves every now and then.
- Stacking of Ugu plants: It is advantageous but not necessary, ugu is better left creeping especially when the farm is large.
- Harvesting of Ugu: We go about this in the safest way which is:
- Using a neat sharp knife.
- Making one clean cut.
- cutting only vines that are at least 4ft long.
- Minding the tips of younger vines.
- Leaving vines that have young pods.
- Storage of Ugu: Ugu is a perishable vegetable that can be stored fresh for a little period. After harvesting, the Ugu is stored in a cool room with water sprinkled on the leaves intermittently.
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Nutritional benefits of ugu
Here are some nutritional benefits of ugu:
Good Source Of Dietary Fibre
Ugu is a source of dietary fiber that helps in the healthy maintenance of the digestive system. It plays an important role in improving digestion thereby reducing the chances of health conditions like irritable bowel movement, constipation, ulcers and gastroparesis. Green leafy vegetables such as Ugu are rich in dietary fiber and should form a part of our daily meal to gain the benefits of this fiber.
Serves as Anti-Diabetic Agent
It has an anti-diabetic effect which means that it has the ability to treat diabetes mellitus by reducing the level of glucose in the blood. This is made possible due to the content of polysaccharides and ethyl acetate which have been effective in lowering the blood sugar level. They are also effective in promoting glucose tolerance as well as the levels of serum insulin. The extract of Ugu leaves has proved effective in this case, and it has been used as an anti-diabetic agent to regulate the blood glucose level.
Improves Blood Production
Fluted pumpkin leaves are always recommended for patients who suffer from a shortage of blood due to the effect of certain illnesses; the presence of iron and other important minerals in it contribute to the boosting of blood in the body system and prevent anemia. Iron being one of the essential minerals in the red blood cells, can cause adverse reactions such as the one stated above when there is its deficiency. Therefore fluted pumpkin leaves have been used in improving the level of blood in the body. For the effectiveness of helping boost blood production, it is recommended to be pounded, then wring the mashed vegetables to collect the liquid/juice.
Improves the Bones and Teeth
Ugu contains a good amount of calcium that the body needs for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It also keeps the skeletal system in normal functioning conditions. It also contains magnesium which plays a vital role in making the bones firm and strong, it might be surprising to say that without magnesium, calcium is almost ineffective to bones as it helps the adequate absorption of calcium by the bones. It also plays the same function on the teeth, as adequate magnesium in the body helps in making the teeth stronger and firm. Ugu also has potassium as one of the minerals it contains which also helps in maintaining the bone mineral density which means that it helps to make the calcium content in the bones intact avoiding the leaching of the mineral. This helps to prevent osteoporosis, which affects the bones especially in the aged.
Ugu has been used locally in the treatment of infertility issues in both men and women. Its content of many vital nutrients and compounds have proven effective in its use to boost/improve sperm count in men and the overall functioning of their testicles. It boosts fertility in women and improves post-pregnancy health as it helps the nursing mother to adequately feed their babies by increasing breast milk production.
Ugu leaves have been found effective in treating convulsion in children. It becomes medicinal in this case when sliced and mixed with coconut water and with a small amount of salt. Scientifically there might be no proof of this, but it has been used hundreds of years ago in the treatment of high fever and convulsion, and serves as a remedy to many other health conditions.
Can Improve Memory
Ugu just as most green leafy vegetables, contains certain compounds that help to improve memory. It also contains vital nutrients such as vitamins and magnesium which aid in the improvement and normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. This can help in improving cognitive reasoning, memory loss (Dementia) and other health conditions associated with memory health such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Effective for Weight Loss
Foods that help in weight loss are recommended for its effectiveness in weight management. Vegetables such a fluted pumpkin leaves contain a high amount of dietary fiber which can help you lose weight as it makes one fuller and lowers their appetite. Not only that, it contains little or no calories which eliminates the chances of storing more calories in the body.
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