Effect of Purple Blotch Farm Management Practices on Onion Production in Uganda
Onion is one of the most important commercial vegetable crops grown intensively in the world. Purple blotch found in all the growing regions is the most destructive of all onion diseases. Detailed studies on the disease's management practices had not been conducted in Uganda. The objective of this study was to establish the effect of purple blotch disease management practices on onion production. Kabale, Kasese, and Mbale regions were identified as the major onion-growing regions. Five farms/onion varieties/regions were surveyed using a semi-structured questionnaire administered to 52 farm owners who were interviewed. The results revealed the majority were small-scale peasant farmers with mean acreage of 0.64-1.94, which varied significantly p=.000, and Kasese had the highest. Eight onion varieties were recorded: Bombay red, Hazera, Hybrid, Malbec, Red coach, Red creole, S-Zee and Tanzania, with Red creole grown in all the regions. Kabale registered the highest number of farms (40.3%), Kasese district (25.0%), the highest mean production of 6,329.9 kg/season, and Namisindwa (21.1%) the second. The main source of seed was Agro input dealers. The use of artificial fertiliser was highest in Mbale (72.7%) and lowest in Kasese (50%), though it did not vary p>.05 significantly. Only farmers in Kabale and Kasese had access to credit facilities, agricultural extension workers and farmers' groups, with Kasese in the lead. Onion purple blotch disease and thrips were the main problem in all the regions and were controlled using chemicals: 100%, 90.9% and 88.3% in Mbale, Kabale, and Kasese, respectively. Weeding of farms was lowest in Mbale (mean = 3.88) and highest in Kasese (4 .84). In conclusion, growing the right onion variety, farmer groups, access to credit facilities, and genuine farm inputs are necessary for a sustainable onion agribusiness in Uganda
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