When schools closed early this year, Edwin Kiprop and Martha Ayabei, both the teachers, have busy making extra coin from passion fruits farming.
The couple ventured into passion farming in 2015 after realizing poor returns form the maize crop from their farm. Initially, they planted maize for three years but we had to wait for a year to get Sh50, 000 from about 20 bags of the crop.
“The market for maize crop was also flooded with brokers. We realized that other farmers growing passion fruit in the area were earning better prices and that is how we decided to try a hand in the farming,” recalls Martha.
On average the couple harvest 200 kilograms in a week with a kilogram going for Sh40 and Sh60.
She says that they start harvesting from sixth month after planting for two years. On the second year, they up-root the crop and plant maize to control soil diseases.
Most of their produce ends up in the regional markets of Uganda and Tanzania with some ending up in Nairobi and Mombasa.
“This is much better compared to maize since you get money every week unlike maize which you have to wait for a year and earn Sh50, 000. In a month, we can make up to Sh50, 000,” added Martha.
She says that the major challenges in the crop include the woodiness due to aphids. At the farm, they spray every two weeks to control the pests and diseases.
“Due to COVI-19, prices have gone down to Sh60 to Sh70 per kilogram but normally the price goes above Sh100 to Sh150 per kilogram. If we had a local firm here where we sell directly then we would really make higher returns. We hope that we the farmers can be supported,” she explains.
In October last year, the European Union (EU)- funded Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP), project was launched in Nairobi, to support among other value chain, passion fruits.
This project is set to be implemented in 12 counties across the country; including; Makueni, Machakos, Embu, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma, Taita Taveta, Kajiado, Trans Nzoia, Nakuru, Busia, Siaya and Homa Bay.
For passion fruits value chain, the benefitting counties are Uasin Gishu, Bungoma and Trans Nzoia.
This couple hopes to benefit from the project, which seeks to promote competitiveness and market access for produce locally, regionally and internationally.
MARKUP Kenya is implemented by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the government and private sector.
Also under support in this project are macadamia, ground nuts, French beans, snow peas, herbs and spices value chains.