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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.

Related Content: Why Hass Avocado is the new Cash Crop

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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Make money by Growing Passion fruit in Kenya

The creation of juice making companies in Kenya is gradually opening up avenues for Kenyan farmers to make money by producing raw materials for these industries. Until recently, Passion Fruit farming was done by major companies in Kenya. Passion Fruit has huge market potentials in the country and it is highly sought after in the international fruit market.

The passion fruits

Passion Fruit, (Passiflora edulis, a close relative to violets, is botanically part of the Passifloraceae family. There are more than 500 species in this family and more than 50 of them are edible. However, only the purple passion fruit and the yellow are grown commercially. The main variety for producing juice and juice concentrate is the yellow variety.

Passion fruit’s unique, intense, aromatic flavour characteristics and its “natural” ingredient make it viable for juice blends. It has also been described as a natural concentrate and it blends so well with other juice flavors. In Germany, one of the largest juice consuming countries in the world, passion fruit concentrate and banana puree constitute the base of almost every “multivitamin” juice produced. These “multivitamin” juices are second only to apple juice in popularity among Germans. In Brazil, the fruit is used in fresh beverages made both at home and in “stalls” or juice stands popular throughout the country.”

How passion fruit grows

The passion fruit is a vigorous, climbing vine that clings by tendrils to almost any support. It can grow 15 to 20 ft. per year once established and must have strong support. It can produce for five to seven years if good agronomy practices are adopted.

Related Post: Farmers already earning more from Macadamia nuts and hass Avocados

Planting the fruit

A farmer is expected to plant the vines in full sun except in very hot areas where partial shade is preferable. The vine can be rather rampant, so it is important to plant it next to a chain link fence or install a strong trellis before planting. The plants can also be cultured into an attractive arbor. Pruning is necessary to keep the vines within bounds, to make harvest easier and to keep the plants productive by maintaining vigorous growth.

Soil requirement

Passion fruit vines need fertile soils, probably additional fertiliser, and they appreciate all the compost and mulch you can spare. A healthy soil, teeming with worms and microbes and lots of organic matter is your best bet.

Irrigation

The root system of passion fruit is small for the size of the plant it has to sustain. Especially while a passion fruit is fruiting, it needs a lot of water. It needs a very regular water supply at all times. However, passion fruit can’t handle waterlogged soil. Make sure your site is free draining.

When to harvest

When the fruits are ripe they will drop. Dropping on the ground does not hurt the fruits. Passion fruit can be collected in bags and stored for weeks.

Market for passion fruits

There is growing consumer interest internationally in general and this means opportunity for Kenyan farmers.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the international market for passion fruit is growing due to the consumer trend of seeking more and more exotic fruit varieties.  The FAO Trade statistics in recent years show that the United States, EU, Japan and China are the largest importer of tropical fruits.

In addition, if you buy passion fruit seedlings from us, we guarantee a market for you. Call us today and place your order.

 

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Amazing Passion Fruit Market In Kenya And Beyond

The shortage of passion fruits for domestic and commercial consumption has sparked a rise in price as the entities strive to meet their fruit needs. The disparity in supply is evident from the margin of the cost of passion fruits in the various towns in Kenya. Passion fruit demand has many a time, been high as soft drink companies strive to meet this raw material. They are forced to import the fruits, with some of them bringing in concentrates because the fresh produce is also limited internationally. Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation’s Horticulture Research Institute officer Peter Mburu said increased demand makes passion fruit a better agribusiness venture than maize, which on many occasions, does not repay the invested production costs. On ordinary supply, a kilo of the passion fruits sells at about Sh80 but today a kilo of passion fruits can fetch you more than a hundred.

How to Grow Passion Fruit

The pH of the soil should be between 6.5 and 7.5. If it is lower, lime needs to be applied and incorporated into the soil several weeks prior to planting. Sodium levels in the soil must be low and application of a thick layer of mulch is strongly recommended as passion fruits are shallow rooted and are easily damaged by weeding or drought stress. Under good water and nutrient management, passion fruits can also be grown in big containers. The crops like a site in full sun to partial shade. They are grown along strong trellis, usually erected from wooden poles about 2m high and strong galvanised wires of about 6m (20ft) length. Spacing between rows is 3m. Part of this space can be utilised by intercropping with cherry tomatoes and cape gooseberries. Spacing between vines in a row is 5m. The main growing vine is trained along the wires. Fruits only grow on the side shoots called laterals and are trained so that they hang straight down. Once a lateral reaches the ground, it is cut off.

Read Also: Why Hass Avocado is the new Cash Crop

So, how do you grow healthy passion fruits?

  • Passion fruits can easily be grown from seeds, however, Oxfarm Organic Limited recommends vines grafted onto yellow passion fruit rootstock is as they have better disease and nematode resistance.
  • Water regularly and ensure good soil fertility by incorporating large amounts of compost, mulching and monitoring potassium and calcium levels. Too much nitrogen encourages only leaf growth at the expense of fruiting.
  • Regular pruning will improve production and keep your vines healthy. Side-shoots that develop from the laterals should be removed to keep your vines tidy, easy to harvest and allow good aeration.
  • Do not let your laterals get entangled with each other. Fruits are only borne on new shoots, therefore, cut each lateral back to a newly developing side shoot close to the main vine after all fruits have been harvested from the lateral.
  • The main vine will continue growing and producing new laterals.

Spread Of Pathogens

Hygiene in your plantation is extremely important. Always prune any diseased or dead plant parts and destroy them. Disinfect your tools and hands during pruning to avoid spread of pathogens. The diseases to watch out for:

  • Dieback is caused by Fusarium or Phytophtora infections, which are both fungal diseases. The use of toxic fungicides should be limited to the necessary minimum. To prevent fungal diseases, frequently spray with this homemade organic fungicide:
  • Crush 2kg of coriander seeds and boil them for 10 minutes in 10 litres of water. Chop 40 onions and pour the hot coriander-water over the onions. Leave them to soak for 24 hours. Filter through a cloth and dilute with 20 litres of water and spray.
  • Brown spot (Alternaria passioflorae) and Leaf spot (Septoria passioflorae) are also fungal diseases that can be prevented by good plantation management, hygiene and the same regular fungicide applications as those of dieback (above). Symptoms are spots on leaves and fruits, eventually making them drop.
  • Woodiness is a virus infection that is transmitted during pruning or grafting and also through sucking insects like aphids. It occurs mainly during the cooler season. Symptoms are mottled foliage and malformed fruits with a thickened, hard rind, producing no pulp. Disinfect tools and hands and immediately remove and destroy diseased vines.
  • Mealy bugs (Planococcus kenyae) are small, oval insects covered in white, waxy fluff. They attach themselves near the fruits and leaves and weaken the vines by sucking honeydew.
  • Excess honeydew also promotes the development of black mould, which covers entire leaves and vines and can eventually kill the plant as photosynthesis is restricted.
  • Similar damage is done by aphids and white flies. Build-up of aphid colonies often starts on nearby plants. Therefore, scout your plantation regularly before any pest takes over whole vines. A pest infestation is usually a sign of bad water and nutrients management.
  • Sucking bugs like Leptoglossus membranaceusor Anaplocnemis curvipes are easily identified by their enlarged, bow-shaped hind legs. They damage fruits by leaving pimply pierce marks that are sometimes are confused with woodiness virus.

NB! To curb the pests, mix 30 to 40ml of neem oil with a litre of water. Add a teaspoon of liquid soap and mix well. Use immediately as a spray, covering also the undersides of the leaves. Neem oil is not a poison but a deterrent, which is always preferable in food crops. Well-kept vines will produce fruits for three to five years. The crop starts flowering about six months after transplanting and fruits ripen in about two-and-a-half months after they set. Harvest in the morning and avoid post-harvest damage by handling the fruits carefully. A well-kept plantation will produce about six to seven tonnes per acre. Always start with a soil test.

For more information, kindly contact us or visit our offices.

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Varieties of fruit Seedlings

Get all grafted fruit seedlings from us and get free advice on planting, management and marketing of the fruits for free. We have all types of fruits seedling including.

Mangoes (Kent, Tommy, Ngowe and apple varieties) @150
Hass avocados/fuerte @150
Oranges @150
Muthakwa grafted tree tomatoes @100
Apples @400
Lime @150
Lemons@100
Tangerines @150
Macadamia @400
Grafted purple passion fruits @70
Aplicot @300
Pepino melons @100

 

Tissue culture bananas @250
Guavas @100
Plums @400
Peaches @300
Pomegranates @300
Kiwi @800
Pawpaw @50
Grapes @250

Delivery services available countrywide. Contact 0702536978/0723662773 for more. Visit our offices at Hermes house opposite kTDA, Tom mboya in Nairobi, Nyeri at Kang’aru House.