A Farmer in Uasin Gishu reaps big from Passion fruit

A Farmer in Uasin Gishu reaps big from Passion fruit

Alice Rono ventured into passion fruit farming about three years ago in Moiben, Uasin Gishu County and is already reaping big.

“Last season when my colleagues who grow maize were complaining for lack of market to sell their produce and delayed payment, I was smiling all the way to the bank, proud of the decision I took to diversify into passion fruit farming. I harvest my fruits every week which I sell at between Ksh 80 and Ksh 100 a kilo. This is not like maize which can only be harvested once a year,” Alice said.

She took the challenge to grow passion fruits on two out of her six acre farm when other farmers in the area were resisting calls by leaders and experts to consider other crops as alternatives to maize, which is their traditional cash crop.

Since water is key to farming, she started by drilling a borehole for drip irrigation. Passion fruits requires a lot of water to produce quality fruits. One plant requires at least 20 litres per week. For her 2400 passion trees, she needs over 20,000 litres of water weekly which would costs her Ksh. 15,000 because in her case she A Farmer in Uasin Gishu reaps big from PASSION FRUIT has to hire a tractor that ferries water from a dam.

In a good season, she harvests at least 1,000Kgs in a month from one acre piece of land. Last year, she earned over Ksh700, 000. “I don’t miss between Ksh 70,000 to Ksh100, 000 every month from passion fruits,” Alice adds. From the venture, the mother of three has been able to pay school fees for her two children in secondary school.

Alice chose passion fruit since it is simple to manage compared to maize whose growing is capital intensive. “Once you plant passion fruits seedlings, you just ensure the farm is kept clean from weeds and the seedlings are adequately watered. After eight months you start harvesting your fruits,’ she explained. She is also encouraged by the fact that seedlings are easily available since there are people within the locality who provide certified seedlings.

According to her, growing passion fruits is not only a catch but also an opportunity to offer employment to young people in her neighborhood who she employs as casual laborers more so when planting and harvesting,” she said.

She encourages farmers in the area and the rest of the county to embrace horticulture even as they continue to grow other cash crops like maize and wheat. “It is not a sin to hold onto the signature crop, but it is high time farmers considers vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Some can also try passion fruits like me, avocados and macadamia, to ensure that when the prices of maize tumble, they are not left without an option,” she says.

For passion fruits, she challenges the county government and investors to consider establishing a processing plant to enable value addition. She regrets that at the moment, passion fruits are exported for processing overseas but if there were factories for local processing, the value of the fruits would be enhanced.

Alice is a nominated member of Uasin Gishu County Assembly, representing gender. “I invest a lot of my time and resources in passion fruit farming because there is life after politics. Another person will be elected or nominated but my life has to continue,” she concluded

By Malachi Motano

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