Value added pumpkins boost Gulu Farmers savings

GULU – A local farmer group in Unyama sub-county, Gulu district is adding value to pumpkins in a bid to cut out the middle man and earn more money from the fruit.

Opar pi wa Farmers Group located in Loyo-boo village, Unyama sub-county, Gulu district is mainly composed of elderly women and a few men who started adding value to pumpkins during the lockdown in 2021.

Ocaya Latigo, the group’s Chairperson said, “At that time, we had a lot of pumpkins yet weekly markets where we used to sell our products were closed. So, members sat down and decided that we should start processing the pumpkin into flour for porridge and also roasting the seeds for sale as a group. I started this as an individual before other members bought the idea.”

The group adds bananas, maize, soy bean, pumpkin seeds to the pumpkins to make a nutritious yellow porridge flour.

Latigo told theCooperator that raw pumpkins fetch low prices compared to the pumpkin flour.

“Middle men buy raw pumpkins from us at a maximum of Shs 3,000 for a big fruit and resell expensively at markets in the city but they are able to earn Shs 8,000 per kilogram of pumpkin flour,” Latigo said.

Adding value to the pumpkin is the group’s first enterprising activity. On individual basis, they grow indigenous vegetables like egg plants, cow peas and night shade among others.

Akongo Santa, the group’s treasurer says, their first earning from the venture was Shs 120,000 from 10kgs of pumpkin flour.

Akongo said, they hope to earn more from pumpkin flour when they improve production and also access more markets.

Opar pi wa is currently capitalizing on local events like farmer field schools where they exhibit their product.

However, Magdalene Ocwee, a group member says the government should support them with ox-ploughs to ease opening of land and increase production.

“We are unable to grow on a larger scale because we are old and rely on hand hoes. We would wish for the government to support us with oxen so that we can grow pumpkins on large scale and earn more money,” Ocwee said.

In 2021, they grew a half an acre of pumpkins but plan to increase to three acres in 2022.


The group’s other needs are a pumpkin slicing machine to reduce slicing time and a solar drier to avoid challenges that come with lack of sunshine during the rainy season.

“Our pumpkins take two days to properly dry under the hot sunshine during the dry season, we don’t know how many days it will take during the rainy season and the effect it could have on the pumpkins,” Latigo said.

He added that they are producing pumpkin flour in small quantities because the grater is slow. In a day, we can only grate two pumpkins yet we could do more if we had a slicing machine.

Opar pi war farmer group is one of several groups supported by Gulu Women Economic Development and Globalization (GWEDG), a Non-Governmental Organization under the Promoting Women Land Rights and Local Seed Bank project.

The 18 months project that ends in December 2022 aims to change the food production and consumption patterns through training and raising awareness about indigenous seeds and crops.

The National Planning Authority in its 2013 report titled, “Scaling Up Value Addition in Agricultural Products” noted that weak value chains have failed to provide incentives to farmers to adapt, improved technologies and pursue more commercial agriculture.

The report further noted that smallholder farmers in particular need to be able to benefit from local-level value addition and be exposed to competition.

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