KENYA: Passion fruit farming set for better times ahead


The prospects of passion fruit farming in Kenya could change for the better if plans to upgrade the fruit into a major horticultural crop are adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

 

This is after details emerged that the country’s production of the crop has been on the decline for the past decade in which no passion fruit exports went to Europe.

 

 

During a stakeholders’ forum for farmers, consumers and development partners, Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya chairman Apollo Owuor said the country produced and exported passion fruit in large scale in the 1990s and early 2000.

 

But since 2003 it declined mainly due to pest management challenges some of which contravened European markets’ strict guidelines on pesticides residue, with Kenya’s passion fruit reported to contain above acceptable limits.

 

Mr Owuor added that there haven’t been efforts to revive the industry since, partly because passion fruit is listed as a minor horticultural crop by the Ministry of Agriculture hence it is not in the government’s policy for priority support.

 

Agriculture Food Authority Horticulture Crops Directorate head Zakayo Magara acknowledged that because passion fruit is listed alongside 100 other minor crops and little has been done in advancing a policy to promote and boost its cultivation.

 

In effect, the Council of Governors Agriculture Committee, represented by Anne Koech, a county executive committee member in charge of agriculture in Kericho County, made a commitment to support the elevation of the crop to major crops status so that resources can be allocated to its development in counties suitable for its cultivation.

 

She said county governments should likewise subsidise its seedlings purchase to improve production and also create market linkages to streamline marketing.

 

Research has shown that passion fruit can grow anywhere in Kenya due to availability of varieties for both warmer and colder climates – yellow passion for lower, warmer regions and the more common purple variety for the higher cooler regions.

 

Experts at the stakeholders’ forum noted that there is potential for Kenya to be a world leader in tropical juice production due to its year-round availability of tropical fruits such as passion fruit, mangoes and pineapples, being a country that can grow these crops successively.

 

Through passion fruit cultivation, a farmers can make good income

 

Written by Brian Okinda, Daily Nation




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