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How to successfully cultivate 'Sagaa'

Crop
 

Sagaa(Saget) vegetables. [David Gichuru,Standard]

Traditional vegetables have become a delicacy for many families in Kenya. The vegetables include spider plant (sagaa), amaranth (terere), black night shade (managu), slender leaf (mitoo), jute mallow (mrenda), among others.

However, of all the traditional vegetables, spider plant stands out. Studies have shown that spider plant is highly nutritious compared to most of the other vegetables. It contains high levels of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and moderate levels of calcium, magnesium and iron. It also has high level of crude protein, lipids and phenolic compounds.

Bertha Atieno specialises in farming traditional vegetables. Alongside Sagaa, she cultivates other nutritious options like Mrenda, Amaranth, Cowpea (kunde), and African Nightshade (osuga) on her small farm in Siaya County. “There has been a noticeable change in attitude towards the consumption of traditional vegetables as people strive to eat healthier foods,” she notes, providing guidance on farming Spider plant.

Growing conditions

Saga thrives in warm climates with temperatures ranging from 18 to 30°C. It prefers well-drained, loamy soils with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. It can tolerate poorer soils but performs best in fertile soil. The Spider plant grows well in full sunlight but can tolerate partial shade.

Land preparation

Clear the land of weeds and debris. Till the soil to a depth of 20 to 30 cm to improve aeration and drainage. Incorporate compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to boost fertility.

Planting

Seeds: Propagate through seeds, which can be sown directly or started in a nursery bed and transplanted.

Direct Sowing: Sow seeds one to two cm deep, spaced about 30 cm apart in rows 45 cm apart.

Transplanting: If starting in a nursery, transplant seedlings when they are 10 to 15 cm tall.

Watering

Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry periods. Avoid waterlogging.

Weeding: Regularly weed the planting area to reduce competition for nutrients and water.

Fertilisation

Apply organic compost or a balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks to promote healthy growth.

Pest and disease management

Common Pests that affect saga include Aphids, spider mites, and caterpillars. Use organic pesticides, insecticidal soaps, or neem oil to manage infestations.

Fungal diseases like downy mildew can occur, especially in humid conditions. Ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to reduce disease risk.

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested three to four weeks after planting and continue to be harvested over several weeks. Harvest the outer leaves, allowing the central part of the plant to continue growing. Regular harvesting encourages new growth and prolongs the productive period of the plant.

Market

Sell fresh leaves in local markets and to restaurants specialising in traditional cuisine. A bunch is sold between Sh30 to Sh45.

Value Addition

Explore drying and packaging the leaves for sale as a dried vegetable or processing them into vegetable powder. 

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