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Monday, 18 February 2013

Passion fruit farmers smile their way to bank



By Joseph Nderitu

Farmers in Laikipia County are fetching high prices on passion fruit growing. The high temperature facing the County has opened fortunes to the residents. Fruits are ripening faster. Almost every home has now adapted to this type of farming. Despite the area being semi-arid fruits are doing so well without the farmers having to irrigate them thus saving the cost of labor.

Photo of passion fruit vine
Mr. Mwangi, one of the farmers highlighted to Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) reporter how the fruits are grown. “They are planted on nursery bed and when they reach the height of 15-20cm, they are transplanted to the field where all field management practices have been carried out. After two months, the fruits are produced. The fruits take 2-6 months to ripen and harvested for marketing. ”

Mr. Mwangi sells his produce in the nearby Sipili market which is normally open on Saturdays. Most buyers come as far as Nairobi for this precious commodity. Passion fruits are well known to produce juice of their own kind. It is not lost to the farmers in the area to build a factory of their own so that they can process their juice locally.

Ripe passion fruit
John, a passion fruit farmer from Dimcom appreciates this type of farming. He has managed to educate his children from passion fruit sales. He acknowledges the tremendous about-turn that the passion fruit farmers have undergone in their living standards.

A kilo of this fruit costs between Ksh 70-150 when the pick is high. Of late farmers have not witnessed drop in prices. Most farmers are not ready to forsake this successful business venture.

Last year, Ng’arua Maarifa Centre had linked farmers in the area with international market for their produce. Exporters could come to Sipili and pick fruits for international destinations like Germany.
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