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Status of Passion Fruit Production in Kenya

Several years back, Republic of Kenya was among high producers of passion fruits, however overtime production has stagnated. however, we’ve seen improvement in sweet yellow selection production since 2011 when it was introduced and it’s currently wide fully grown. This is often as a result of its proof against bacterial wilt and woodiness.

Most farmers grow the yellow and purple varieties. Yellow is good for processing while the other variety is good for fresh juice extraction. This has boosted the production cycle that is now two years yet our competitors like Zimbabwe and South Africa take five years. However, our average production is still 3.3 metric tonnes (MT) per hectare compared to 8 tonnes per hectare for other nations.

According to HCD, in 2015, total production stood at 46,628MT but this fell in subsequent years to 31,571MT on average. The low production is due to pests and diseases and reliance of rain-fed agriculture and farmers are not providing enough nutrients to grow to optimum.

Woodiness disease is a major hindrance to the production of the fruit and is characterized by the crop’s leaves turning yellowish. It is a viral infection that occurs in cooler areas or seasons, with symptoms including one getting malformed fruits with hard rind producing no pulp. These cannot be sold in any market.

New Varieties in The Market

Since 2011, there has been a number of varieties released by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization like KPF 8, KPF 11 and KPF 12.  These varieties can withstand pests and erratic weather patterns. But there is also a purple variety called Esther, which is bigger, sweet and promises better yields. Most farmers are yet to grow it. The variety takes time before it shrivels or loses moisture compared existing ones.

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Hindrances to the Export Market

Various markets normally set requirements for active ingredient for a specific crop. The challenge has been that we don’t have appropriate chemicals for use on the crop. There is only one herbicide and one pesticide approved by Pesticide Control Board (PCB) for use by farmers.

However, there are a wide range of pests such as white flies and mealy-bugs that attack this crop. Export markets such as the Europe Union require that the use of these products must be registered and approved.

So, the challenge is that if farmers use a pesticide that is not within those approved, then automatically they are not conforming to the set requirements. Secondly, by default the residue level is set at 0.01, (which is level set for those products that have not been approved). So, if they spray using a pesticide that is not approved, it is detected immediately and the produce intercepted. Most exporters have been unable to export because they fear that their produce would be rejected by the EU market. Yet, spraying to kill pests and diseases is inevitable because of the tropical climate we live in.

The government responsibility is to protect farmers and the PCB is currently working to correct the situation. We are also working with the competent existing horticultural structures to assist farmers comply with market requirements not just for the EU, but also American, Australian and Oman market that have stringent measures.

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Other Challenges in This Sector and How They Can Be Handled

Most smallholder farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture so that when the rains fail, you get small sizes of fruits that are rejected in the export market.

Counties should support farmers by developing irrigation agriculture to ensure the quality of the produce is improved.

Role of The Horticultural Crops Directorate in Assisting Farmers Access Better Market

HCD is encouraging farmers to work in groups. They also encourage them to grow certified seedlings from nurseries licensed or registered by HCD or county governments. In addition, they also follow the contractual agreement between farmers and an exporter as a witness to ensure that they are not exploited. It is a requirement that the exporter must also have a certificate from HCD and a plant health certificate from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service before exporting produce.

(Source, Seeds of Gold)

Related Content: How to establish grafted purple passion Fruits Orchard

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Purple passion fruit seedling

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Agri-business in Kenya: Fighting Poverty and Hunger

Kenya is witnessing a quiet revolution which holds out real hope of banishing poverty and hunger and driving economic growth through Agri-business.

This transformation is not in sectors like oil and gas, minerals or tourism, which grab global headlines, but in Agri-Business, which remains the backbone of the continent’s economy.

Agri-Business Is the Major Sector in Kenya

Despite the rapid growth in the services sector, Agri-Business still accounts for more than a third of its GDP. Kenya is urbanizing rapidly, but Agri-Business still employs two-thirds of the workforce. Evidence has shown that growth in Agri-Business is up to 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector. If we want to end poverty and hunger in Kenya by 2030, Agri-Business needs to be right at the heart of the strategy.

Kenyan Agri-Business and small-scale farmers have too often been forgotten. The result is that Africa, despite the hard work of its farmers, does not grow enough to feed its own people. One in four of the continent’s population is undernourished, a huge barrier to better health and development. There is a direct economic cost, too, with $35bn spent on importing food annually – a figure which could almost triple by 2025 unless Africa increases agricultural productivity.

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How to Fight Hunger and Poverty Through Agri-Business

Agri-business is the only way of maximizing profits
A passion fruit Farm in North Rift

First, over the last decade, Agri-Business has received growing attention from governments and investors. For example, through African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) – a forum which Koffi Annan helped launch a decade ago – $30bn worth of political, financial and policy pledges were made; the largest-ever commitment to the continent’s Agri-Business. This was a turning point. Now, Africa is taking steps to turn these pledges into results. At 2016 AGRF in early September, there were signing of many agro-business deals amounting to more than $6bn.

Second, smallholder agri-business farmers are becoming recognized for the small businesses they are. Initiatives like the Farm to Market Alliance, which help smallholder farmers secure long-term buyers for their produce, are gaining momentum. This gives them the confidence to invest and grow their businesses knowing they have a market when they harvest.

Third, Africa is changing the way it works together. New partnerships are emerging, like the recently launched, multimillion-dollar Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA). It aims to increasing incomes and improve the food security of 30 million smallholder farm households across Africa by 2021. It is the first time Africa has seen some of the largest funders of agricultural development pooling their resources and efforts towards a common goal. This represents a new way of doing business. Though supporting small-scale farmers, Africa can free itself from hunger.

Fourth, with climate change threatening food production as never, Africa is prioritizing efforts to help farmers adapt. By embracing, for example, solutions such as drought and heat-tolerant crops, modern weather information systems, and efficient irrigation systems, farmers can cope with the changing weather conditions.

Fifth, Africa is putting a much bigger emphasis on the quality of its diets, rather than just focusing on quantity. In sub-Saharan Africa, millions lack the nutrients needed for proper health and development. One of the ways we are tackling malnutrition is by making crops more nutritious.

Africa Taking Control Through Agri-Business

These signs of progress rarely make the global headlines, but they are slowly and surely transforming economies and improving lives of millions across the continent. Africa is taking control of its own agricultural transformation. This is essential if the continent is to ensure African farmers and companies enjoy the full benefits of its growing food market, which is projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030.

In the end, this progress will only continue if Africa focus on Agri-Business as its path to prosperity, monitor its progress and hold itself to account.

We shall reap what we sow. By supporting Kenya’s smallholder farmers, we can build a Kenya free from hunger. We can build an Africa free from poverty. We can build an Africa proud to be economically strong and able to feed itself. That is the bountiful harvest that together we can and must achieve.

For better fruit farming methods and seedlings, call us today or visit our offices.

By Koffi Annan