Kenya exported passion fruits in the 90s and early 2000 but since 2003, decline in production started because of pest management challenges.
Despite Kenya’s potential to grow and export passion fruits, production of the highly profitable crop has been on the decline over the past decade with no imports going into the European Union.
The Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya Chairman Apollo Owuor told a gathering of farmers, buyers and development partners at a conference titled Making Kenya the Global Leader in Passion Fruit Production and Marketing held in Eldoret last month, Kenya produced and exported the fruits in the 90s and early 2000 but since 2003, decline in production started because of pest management challenges.
The European market has strict guidelines on pesticides residues and passion was reported to contain above allowable limits.
He added there has not been efforts to revive the industry partly because passion is listed by the Ministry of Agriculture as a minor horticultural crop therefore not in government policy for priority. The Agriculture Food Authority Horticulture Directorate head Zakayo Magara admitted passion fruit is listed under 100 other minor crops.
Following the day-long deliberations, the Council of Governors Agriculture Committee, represented by Anne Koech, County Executive Committee Member in charge of Agriculture, Kericho, made a commitment to propose and support the upgrading of the crop to a major so that funds can be allocated to development of passion in counties earmarked as suitable to grow it. She said the county governments would subsidise purchasing of seedlings to improve production and create market linkages to streamline marketing among in Western region, considered as a high potential passion fruit production zone.
According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that funded the conference through the Kenya Agriculture Value Chains Enterprises (Kaves), Passion fruits can grow anywhere in Kenya due to availability of varieties for warmer and colder parts of the country. “We have yellow passion for the lower, warmer regions and the more common purple variety for the higher cooler parts,” said Dr Steve New, Kaves Chief of Party.
He added there is potential for Kenya to be a world leader in tropical juice production due to year-round availability of tropical fruits – passion, mango and pineapple, as the only country in the world that can grow the crops continuously.
Passion fruit is the most profitable in comparison with other crops, according to the Passion Fruit Value Chain Study undertaken in 2015 by Dr Hezekiah Agwara which indicates a farmer can make good income from a small parcel of land measuring 0.3- 0.6 of an acre. Dr New describes this as “poverty level minimum” that can sustain a livelihood. He added nothing goes to waste from a passion fruit plant. “Minimal wastage in passion fruit production because there is a huge domestic market. Passion is also used by processors for juice while neighbouring Uganda is a big market for Kenya passion fruits taking 50 per cent of total production. South Sudan is also buying lots of passion from Kenya.
Dr New stresses that passion fruit is best produced by smallholders due the attention it requires for maximum productivity. At spraying the plant will be at different stages of pest control making it hard for largescale management. On one vine you can have a flower, a young and mature fruit at the same time. The disease and pest control for each is different and non should affect the other, especially the ready to harvest fruit which shouldn’t have traces of chemicals. Managing this balance it not easy, he said.
According to Eric Ogumo, UK retail giant, Tescos, manager for Africa, passion fruit is the most sought after in their shelves in Europe, retailing at Ksh 2,000 a kilo. “Buyers always ask for Kenya fruits but there are none. “We are here to buy your fruits”, he told an attentive gathering. Mr Ogumo said they are buying from Southern Africa countries of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. “There is a ready market if we can get your fruits”, he said adding that Kenya is not benefiting from newest varieties because the country is not exporting. “There are newer, better yielding, pest and diseases resistant varieties for export but they are not being grown here.” Mr Ogumo said.
The biggest challenge of meeting pesticides residue limits is caused by there being only one registered product. The Agriculture Committee of the Council of Governors has committed to bring agrochemical firms together with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Pest Control Products Board to discuss extension of labels to include passion fruits in pest control products available in the country to give farmers options.
Biological control products firms have also not conducted research on the passion due to its minor crop status.
Mango is one of the most important fruit crops in the tropical and subtropical lowlands. The mango industry in Kenya has expanded considerably over recent years, not only in size but also in the geographical location of commercial and homestead plantings. No longer is commercial mango cultivation restricted to the Coast region, as significant plantings of improved cultivars now also exist in the Makueni county, Meru County, Murang’a County, Nairobi County, Nakuru County, Siaya County, Taita Taveta County, Tana River County, Tharaka Nithi County, Bungoma County, Kitui County, Embu County, Machakos County, Kiambu County among other regions. But the generally arid eastern region produces 61 per cent of all mangoes, followed by Rift Valley at 30 per cent and Coast, which produces 28 per cent.
Main characteristics that differentiate varieties are the fruit shape, size, aroma, sweetness, color, fiber
content, taste, seed size and resistance to diseases. Proper selection of a mango cultivar for production must consider the following criteria:
• good adaptation to the local conditions (e.g. rainfall and dry periods)
• alternation of flowering and fruiting
• tolerance to pest and disease infections
• designated use and market requirements
The mango is best adapted to a warm tropical monsoon climate with a pronounced dry season (>3 months) followed by rains. However, information from other countries indicates that crops cultivated for a long time over an extended area show a high degree of diversity due to varied environmental influences.
Varieties include; Apple mango, kent, Haden, Tommy atkins,Van dyke etc
Mangoes are the most popular and full of nutritional and unique taste. its rich in vitamin A,C,E,and K
Peach trees grow best in full sun, where they can bask for at least six hours in the natural light. They prefer slightly acidic soils ranging from 6.0 soil pH to 6.5. Anything slightly under or over and the tree will still grow, but its yield and health may be adversely affected. The trees love sandy loam soil and demand good drainage. If soil drainage is poor, tilling in compost, sand or peat moss helps increase drainage capabilities.
Peach trees require the most water when they're young -- their first year in the ground -- with watering once weekly or, twice weekly. Peach trees may produce fruit during drought-like conditions if not watered, but the tree will become stressed and the fruit will lack size. To maintain soil moisture, add mulch around the tree but not touching the trunk itself.
Peaches can survive in cold winters where temperatures regularly reach zero degrees Fahrenheit, but the next harvest will be small or nonexistent. They thrive in climates where temperatures during winter reach 150C -30 0C degrees.
Peach trees that are expected to grow to a mature height of about 25 feet grow best when they have 20 feet of space between them. Dwarf peach trees thrive when planted about 6 feet apart. Planting trees too close together reduces air circulation and may prohibit growth and result in root damage.
The condition most limiting to growing an avocado tree is cold weather. Hass Avocado varieties are the most cold-hardy, but they can tolerate cold temperatures to only about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. During freezing weather, it helps to drape blankets or tarps over a young tree and anchor the coverings to the ground. If an avocado tree is large, then mounding soil or mulch high on the tree trunk for winter can help the tree survive cold temperatures.
An avocado tree can grow successfully in a variety of soil types and in soil with acidic or alkaline pH levels, but the tree requires soil that has good drainage. It declines in poorly draining and saline soil. Although an avocado tree cannot tolerate wet soil, it needs at least 1 inch of water every week during periods of insufficient rainfall. Not fertilizing the tree until it is 1 year old is recommended. Young trees need four applications of a balanced manure and older trees need twice-yearly applications of a high-nitrogen product applied in early December and late July.
habits as well as their training and trellising requirements. The fruit normally ripens within 25 weeks after the flowers first appear. The fruits range in weight from 40 to 90 g and can be picked shortly after the first frost in autumn; after that, they can be kept in cold storage for 4–6 months at 00 C. Kiwi vines can be grown on a wide range of soil types at elevations ranging from 1000 m to 2500 m.
The kiwi plant is dioecious, meaning individual plants are either male or female. Only female plants bear fruit, but only when pollinated by a male plant. Vines of both sexes are essential for fruit production, and they must flower at the same time to ensure pollination. One male pollinator vine is required for eight female vines. The vines are commonly supported on sturdy structures strong enough to bear the heavy fruit, which might otherwise break the rather weak vines. T-bars or hitching post trellises are recommended to support the large fruiting area in the
form of a canopy and provide easy access to the fruit.
Oranges can be grown from as low as sea level to 200m above sea level. Areas of low humidity are most ideal. Such a climate is important for reduced disease intensity and for acquiring good orange colour. A dry hot day, cool at night climate also favours good color development. Citrus requires temperature ranges from 13oC-38oC. Optimum temperature is 25oC-35oC. Extremely high temperatures may be harmful especially during flowering or if cool temperatures are followed by a hot period. Damage occurs in the form of flower and leaf drop. Wind can also cause serious damage to orange trees and fruits. Hot dry wind will often scorch trees by drying young leaves. Winds of high speeds will scar fruits and cause fruit drop. Where winds are a problem, wind break shelters should be planted
The ideal spot for a mature pawpaw is in a sunny location protected from the wind and endowed with plenty of rich, well-drained soil. The seedling should be protected from direct sunlight for the first year or two, so filter the sun with an open-ended barrel or some netting. After that, full sun is preferred.
Tree Growing papaya trees is generally done from seed that is extracted from ripe fruit. If you are using a fruit from a grocery store, it is most likely going to be a bisexual plant. You should plant several seeds per pot to ensure germination. Under full sunlight, seedlings may emerge in about two weeks. Plants can be set out after they are a foot tall and spaced 8 to 10 feet apart. The seedlings will flower after five or six months.
Pawpaw also grow best in full sun. Papayas like well-drained soil, and because of shallow roots, growing pawpaw trees will not tolerate wet conditions. In addition to proper pawpaw growing conditions, suitable care of pawpaw fruit trees is also important. For pawpaw trees to thrive, they require some fertilizer. Provide young plants fertilizer every 14 days using ¼ pound of complete fertilizer. Fertilize older trees with 1 to 2 pounds of fertilizer once a month. Also, be sure to take a soil sample and amend as necessary.
Grape vines not only produce sweet and versatile fruits, they add an element of drama to a garden or landscape. They are vigorous growers, and with the proper pruning, they will produce fruit with ease and can last longer than 30 years.
The crop prefers warm to hot temperatures; during fruiting, the weather must be sunny and dry. Warm environmental temperatures during fruit ripening, is important in increasing the sugar content of berries while reducing their acidity. This explains why grapes grown under irrigation in hot deserts or semi deserts are sweeter than those from cold humid areas.
The crop can grow in any soil, from sandy to heavy clays but the soil should be deep and well drained. Where the rainfall is scant, supplement it with an irrigation of 500 mm of water during the cropping season. In Kenya, the cropping season is September to March.
Irrigation should be withheld after the long rains so as to force the crop to go dormant.
In August to September, fruit buds form thus it is important to keep the plant healthy and well manured.
There are plenty of health benefits in consuming grapes for they are a rich source of Vitamins- A, C, K and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese.
Soils should be well drained. Wet soils lead to poor aeration and increased incidence of crown rot in apples (Phytophthora cactorum). Generally, rooting tends to be shallow, and wet soils will restrict development, resulting in poor anchorage of the tree and a reduced area of soil from which nutrients can be extracted. Soils with high organic matter contents are normally better structured and allow good rooting.
Irrigation is necessary on dry soils, particularly when establishing and growing young orchards. Trickle irrigation and fertigation are increasingly used. In young orchards fertigation helps increase early tree growth and brings trees into bearing earlier. Sprinkler irrigation can be used to protect the tree buds and fruitlets against frost damage.
Sowing of a grass mulch between the tree rows is common practice, which together with any clippings, helps to increase water holding capacity, infiltration rate, soil aggregation and recycling of nutrients.
Apples prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH between 5.8 and 7.0). Extreme soil pH values result in nutrient tie-up or toxicity and poor tree and fruit development. It is important to amend the pH in acidic soils by incorporating lime before planting