How to buy plants amidst covid-19 challenges

Wednesday September 16 2020
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Many people have taken up gardening, though, even with the goodwill, the can’t find plants. Photo/Rachel Mabala.

By Beatrice Nakibuuka

Before the lockdown happened, people selling herbs, trees or different plants were common on roadsides.
It was easier for one to buy a tree or flowers while caught in traffic. Yet, months after the lockdown was eased, many of such people are yet to return to their workstations. Some of these business people are now suffering losses because many of them can’t afford to move around purchasing plants and, of course, thanks to the lockdown that interrupted humanity.  
With many Ugandans adopting home gardening as an interest, they have thought of taking it on, yet found it hard to get plants.  
Since most means of transport stopped or continued with restrictions in one way or the other, gardeners have had to find new avenues of getting to their clients by establishing their businesses on online spaces.
According to Samson Luwagga, a researcher and gardener at Samster Farming Unit Wakiso, the demand for plants especially fruits and vegetables increased as soon as the lockdown was declared. 

He says, “Many people are ordering for tomatoes, strawberries, pawpaws, cabbages, sukuma, rosemary, hibiscus and many others on a daily basis.” 
Luwagga says that people basically call and give a description of what they want and the quantity; “Some people want the plants in crates especially those from nurseries while others want them potted.” 
According to Luwagga, the way the client wants the plants determines the means of transportation to be used. “For instance, if one wants tomatoes in crates, they can be delivered on a boda boda no matter the number because they are portable. 

However, he says if the client wants many seedlings and the distance is long, then using a pickup is more economical.
Potted plants also necessitate the use of a vehicle because the pots are usually very versatile. You do not want to suffer a loss when a pot breaks on delivery using a boda boda.

How do you get good seedlings?
Since most clients are unable to move, they are at risk of getting substandard plants that may even be diseased since the demand is high. Ethel Nambowa, a gardener and landscaper at Green Gardeners in Kasangati advises that clients should order for plants from trusted sources. They can be recommendations from friends but it is prudent for you to have seen the plants from that person before. 
The challenge according to Luwagga is that now the demand is very high and some seedlings are out of stock. One has to place an order and then wait for three weeks while he is developing them.
Nambowa uses social media to display the variety and types of both indoor and landscape plants she has and people who view her page order for the plants of their choice.

She says, “This kind of display has done a great deal of marketing for me. People keep asking for more pictures in my inbox then they make a choice. In the aftermath of the lockdown, more people are ordering for indoor plants compared to the outdoor plants. I get more orders for water plants that can thrive without soil.  They are unique and very durable compared to that are soil-based.” 
She remarks that some people see plants elsewhere and then contact her and when she has the plant requested by the client, delivery is done depending on what the client finds convenient