The Bantu tribes call it ‘Kasooli’ of course with different dialects, the Luo call it ‘Oduma’, the Lugbara call it ‘Kaka’ and the Iteso call it ‘emudunga’.
But let’s call it maize or corn. Unlike other foods which are consumed on a regional basis, maize seems to be consumed in the whole of Uganda.
In Northern Uganda, maize growing is mostly in Lira, Gulu, Amuru and Nwoya. In Eastern Uganda, maize is commonly grown in Mbale, Jinja, Iganga and Kamuli. And in Western Uganda, it is mostly grown in Masindi, Kibaale, Kabarole and Kasese.
What are the conditions necessary for growing maize in Uganda?
Maize is a biannual plant in Uganda. And this is because of the two rainy seasons Uganda experiences.
Farmers usually plant maize during March to April or August to September when the rains are just beginning. Hence harvesting is usually done between July to August and December to January respectively.
The soils for planting maize should be fertile, well drained and above all moist. For a healthy maize plant, major mineral nutrients like Potassium, Phosphorous and Nitrogen should be added to the soil.
The types of maize seeds planted in Uganda
The most common type of maize in Western Uganda is the Longe 5 type locally known as Nalongo. It is most commonly planted due to its early maturity of 115 days which is approximately 4 months.
The other commonly planted maize types are Kawanda Composite A (KWCA) with a maturity length of 133 days and Longe 10H which is drought tolerant and matures within 120 days.
However, various hybrids of maize have been introduced in Uganda. For example we have the Hybrid WE 3106, Hybrid WE 2114 and the Hybrid UH5051 which is locally called ‘Gagawala’ in Luganda meaning ‘get rich’.
How to grow maize while in Uganda
After preparing your garden by either hand digging or ploughing preferably two weeks earlier, you are set to plant your maize seeds.
Dig holes of depth 5 – 7 cm with a spacing of 75cm between each row and 25cm between the plants.
Farmers usually sow more than one seed, most preferably 2 – 4 per hole. This reduces the chances of having to refill in case the first seeds fail to germinate within two weeks.
After these two weeks, the seedlings should be weeded to prevent competition for food and nutrients. Maize plants in a garden should be weeded at least twice during their growth.
Maize diseases like ‘maize steak virus or ‘maize lethal necrosis’ which all lead to stunted growth should be sprayed against using pesticides during their early stages. If this is not done, maize growing in Uganda will be hampered hence leading to low production levels
In case all the seeds planted in one hole germinate, then it is advisable that the other are transplanted to leave only one or two per hole.
Maize plants grow from 4 to 12 feet tall and depending on the maturity period, they take between 90 to 140 days in order to be harvested.
How to harvest your maize after it has matured
Most maize plants have between one to two cobs of maize. But due to spacing, some plants manage to have up to four ears of corn on the same stalk.
These ears of corn are plucked off the plant and the stalk broken down afterwards. If planted on a large scale, one can harvest between 50 to 56 bags of maize per acre.
Where to purchase the different forms of maize in Uganda
Being one of the Ugandan staple foods, maize can be eaten in different forms.
A kilogram of maize grain can be bought from downtown, Owino market or Nakasero market food section at prices of 600 to 1000 Ugandan shillings.
During the harvest season, you are most likely to find hawkers and vendors selling boiled or roasted maize anywhere by the roadside stalls. Most especially in crowded areas like taxi parks around Kampala and bus stops for instance in Pakwach at prices of 500 to 1000 Ugandan shillings.
However, that is not the only form Ugandans know to eat their maize. The other main option is in form of flour. This maize flour is commonly called Posho when cooked.
Posho is locally known as Kawunga by Baganda and some other tribes, ‘Euga’ by the Iteso, ‘Bando’ by the Basoga and ‘Busiima’ by the Bagisu.
You can easily purchase a kilogram of maize flour from any retail food shops around Uganda at a price range of 1800 to 2000 Ugandan shillings.
To sum it up, you can always enjoy posho in any restaurant or hotel in Uganda at a cheap price. Posho is one of the foods that does not miss on the menu. Though you can try your luck with sweet corn as well.