Baby Melon as a Cover-Crop in Lowlands [Uganda]

Pito kodi pi gengo wi ngom

technologies_2822 - Uganda

Completeness: 94%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)


Mwebesa Nelson


Koro sub county, Omoro district


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers (IFAD)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Uganda Landcare Network (ULN) - Uganda

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Baby melon (cucumis melo) is used as a cover-crop to prevent soil degradation

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Baby melon, as a cover crop, protects soil from erosion and compaction due to rain drops. The cover crop also conserves soil moisture during drought periods. Besides soil conservation, baby melon is used as source of food and income to the land user. It is a vegetable crop which looks like pumpkin with wide leave and scroll on the surface of the land and has the ability to prevent soil erosion from run-off. The crop is also commonly grown along streams where it protects the banks from erosion, provides manure through leaf-fall, and reduces the risk of flooding by increasing the evopo-transpiration from its wide leaves.

To establish this cover crop, farmers use seeds, which is locally conserved from previous fruiting or bought from agro-input shop. Seeds are sown directly into a pre-cultivated garden. Usually planting is at a spacing of two meters. Planting is usually done at the start of the rainy season. Weeding, as well as pest and disease management is done the way pumpkins are usually managed. Fruits are harvested at a relatively early stage (~2 months after planting). A more juvenile fruit is preferred to the more grown one for its nutritional value.

The benefit of the technology is first for food, income and also for protection of the soil from the effect of running water and rain drops. The farmer obtains nutritious food from the fruits of this plant. The plants also prevent soil erosion and take a very short time to mature. When the plant covers an area, it reduces weed growth, thus reducing the cost of weeding. One disadvantage of this technology is that the pumpkins do not have a popular market and have a very short shelf life. Fruits therefore, have to be sold immediately after harvesting. The market value of the crop is generally low.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.4 Videos of the Technology




Omoro District

Name of videographer:

Isa Aiga and Sunday Balla Amale

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Northern Region,Uganda

Further specification of location:

Koro Subcounty, Omoro District

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

The annual crop used as a vegetable

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • conserve ecosystem

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
Main crops (cash and food crops):

Maize, Sorghum

3.3 Further information about land use

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

March to May and September to November

3.4 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • improved ground/ vegetation cover

3.5 Spread of the Technology

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wr: riverbank erosion

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology


Amale Balla Sunday



4.2 Technical specifications/ explanations of technical drawing

Spacing between baby melon plants is 2m by 2m. This spacing enables vigorous growth and quick soil surface cover.

4.3 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

1 acre

If using a local area unit, indicate conversion factor to one hectare:


other/ national currency (specify):

Uganda Shillings

Indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (if relevant): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.4 Establishment activities

Activity Type of measure Timing
1. Clearing Management Start of season
2. Planting Agronomic Start of seson
3. Weeding Agronomic One month after planting
4. Pest and disease control Agronomic Throughout the season
5. Harvesting Agronomic At end of season

4.5 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour labor 1 5.0 5000.0 25000.0 100.0
Plant material Seed kg 1.0 200000.0 200000.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Manure Bags 5.0 20000.0 100000.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Fungicides Litters 2.0 30000.0 60000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 385000.0

4.6 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Type of measure Timing/ frequency
1. Spraying Agronomic Throughout the season

4.7 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour labor 1 3.0 5000.0 15000.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Fungicides Litters 2.0 30000.0 60000.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 75000.0

4.8 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Purchase of fungicides

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Indicate the name of the reference meteorological station considered:


Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • concave situations

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

poor drinking water (treatment required)

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium
Habitat diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • subsistence (self-supply)
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
  • middle-aged

5.7 Average area of land owned or leased by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production


product diversity

Income and costs

diversity of income sources


Ecological impacts


soil moisture


soil cover


soil loss


soil crusting/ sealing


soil compaction


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

reliable and stable stream flows in dry season


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season Type of climatic change/ extreme How does the Technology cope with it?
annual rainfall decrease well
seasonal rainfall wet/ rainy season decrease very well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
tropical storm well
Biological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
insect/ worm infestation not well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

very positive

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many have did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
A source of food and income to the farmer in a very short time (2months)
Income diversification as an adaptation strategy
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
No major technical expertise required since the crop is similar in many ways ot other traditional ones like water melon, pumpkisns, among others
The crop can be produced for several seasons with minimum watering since it has a short rotation (2 months)

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Access to seed is not easy since the crop is not widely cultivated Establish contacts with seed dealers and linking them to farmers or farmers groups
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
The crop is highly susceptible to fungal diseases yet the pesticides are relatively expensive for low-income farmers. Farmers can form groups for collective bargaining to reduce the cost of pesticides or receive subsidies from government

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:


7.3 Links to relevant information which is available online

Title/ description:


Links and modules

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