Ugandan Farmer Using Old Newspapers for Potting Soil for Tomato Seedlings

Posted on August 17, 2022

A farmer in Buggayi Village of Mpigi District, Uganda, has come up with an interesting innovation in potting soil for planting tomato seeds.

Ssalongo Kabubi Gerald Magyera, who is growing the Asal tomatoes, an improved variety, has found convenience in using old newspapers rather than the common polythene bags, which he cuts into a pot-like shape, compacts soil inside, and plants the seeds.

This is very effective because it doesn't damage the tree roots, easily rots in the soil, and is cheaper than polythene pots.

Soil potted in old newspapers ready for planting tomato seedlings [Promise Tooro-Cultiva Dream Team Uganda]

Promise Tooro and Deogratius Omuron of Cultiva Dream Team visited the farmer and found out that he had set apart four acres for the project.

"At Kabubi's farm, they came up with an innovation of using newspapers as pots other than the polythene bags. This is because the newspapers rot within the soil, and are so much cheaper to get than the polythene," Promise explained.

"They get soil from charcoal burning points (local biochar), mix it with chicken manure, and dark loam soil. Leave it for some days for the chicken manure to stabilize the pH, then put the mixture in the newspaper pots. The pots are watered, then the seeds are planted (1 seed per pot) and then covered with soil. 

Promise Tooro and Deogratius Omuron of Cultiva Dream Team Uganda help in potting soil into pots made from old newspapers [Promise Tooro-Cultiva Dream Team Uganda]

"All the pots are then provided with a cover for 4 to 5 days as they germinate, harden off while still in the nursery bed, and are then transferred to the main garden. In the main garden, cow dung is put down before planting the seedlings."

Asked whether the same innovation can be used for potting tree seedlings, Mr. Kabubi said it is not effective because tree seedlings take longer to mature and newspaper pots would have rotted by that time. 

The skilled farmer, also the chairman of his village, has employed workers to do the potting, seed application, watering, and take care of the seedlings as they mature in the seedbeds.

Apart from tomatoes, he also grows beans, cassava, bananas, and maize.

- Written by Sam Oduor

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