Regaining Kenya’s passion fruit farming

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.

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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.

 

Credit; http://www.hortinews.co.ke

 

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MANGOES

<span data-recalc-dims=MANGOES" > The mango is a deep-rooted, evergreen plant which can develop into huge trees, especially on deep soils. The height and shape varies considerably among seedlings and cultivars. Under optimum climatic conditions, the trees are erect and fast growing and the canopy can either be broad and rounded or more upright. Seedling trees can reach more than 20 m in height while grafted ones are usually half that size.
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
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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.

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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.
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<span data-recalc-dims=KIWI SEEDLINGS" > Kiwi fruits grow on large vines that are like grapevines in their general growth and fruiting
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<span data-recalc-dims=ORANGE SEEDLINGS" > Oranges grows over a wide range of soils but light, well drained (sandy) soils are most ideal. For good production oranges require well distributed rainfall or supplementary irrigation throughout the year. A good source of water is therefore essential in orange farming. Water requirements vary according to weather conditions, but the ideal range is between 450mm – 2,700mm per year.
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<span data-recalc-dims=PAW PAW SEEDLINGS" > Paw Paw
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<span data-recalc-dims=GRAPES SEEDLINGS" > Grapes are often ignored in home gardens, and yet are one of the most widely produced fruit in the world—as well as beautifully ornamental plants. We have plenty of tips for growing grapes in your homestead.
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<span data-recalc-dims=APPLES SEEDLINGS" > Apples trees can grow in a wide range of soils from medium textured clays to gravelly sands. However, poor soils will produce poor results and the best crops are found on fertile sandy soils and loams.
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