Most farmers are shifting their focus to products with high horticultural value, such as passion fruits and avocados, rather than products with unstable markets, such as maize, sugarcane, and beans.
According to Simon Kirima, Operations Manager of Kerys Kool Fresh, an exporter of passion fruits, one hectare of land may generate 15 to 20 tonnes of products, earning farmers up to one million shillings, compared to maize which earns between Sh.35,000 and Sh.60,000 per acre.
"If a farmer sells a kilo of passion for Sh.70, for example, he or she will make 1.05 million from one acre with a yield of 15 tonnes, even though the price changes depending on demand," said Kirima.
The cultivation of passion fruit begins with creating an orchard, which provides a robust crop stand that can tolerate environmental stress.
The crop thrives in areas where rainfall totals over 1200mm and is evenly spread throughout the year. Irrigation is advised in locations when rainfall is less than 1200mm.
Thika, Nyamira, Kisii, Nyeri, Kakamega, Murang 'a, and Nyeri are among the regions in Kenya where the crop is farmed.
Before planting, inspect the soil for type, texture, depth, chemical analysis, nutrient, and nematode levels. Ideal soils range from light to heavy sandy loams with a medium texture and adequate drainage. Passion fruits grow when the pH level is between 5.5 and 6.5.
"We test the nutritional analysis, pH, organic carbon matter, and the findings are generally available in two days," said Nick Onyango, an officer at SoilCares Ltd. This firm monitors and analyzes soil fertility.
Preparing for the Land
Two to three months before planting, the land is prepared by breaking a hard pan to a depth of 80cm.
Make 45cm broad and 45cm deep holes at 1.8m between plants and two meters between rows before planting.
Mix at least 10kg of well-rotten manure into the soil and apply it to the plants.
Phosphates are a kind of bacterium.
Per hole, use 125g of triple superphosphate (TSP) or diammonium phosphate (DAP). In the market, one bag of DAP costs between Sh.2,500 and Sh.3,000.
Dressing on top
Apply calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) at a rate of 125g per plant two weeks after planting.
Weeding is a type of weeding.
Weed the plants regularly to remove undesirable plants that might serve as hosts for illnesses such as mosaic viruses. It also reduces nutrient competition between plants.
Structure for support
Because passion fruit is a climber, it requires assistance. Dig holes to a depth of 50cm and space them six meters apart along the rows of passion seedlings. Use poles that are 2.7m long and 2.7m tall.
Pruning a tree
Passion fruit vines are pruned to reduce excess growth and keep the vines under control. It promotes new development by removing weak and dead parts. It makes pest and disease control easier.
Imports and exports
According to the National Farmers Service, the fruit's demand in the domestic and foreign markets remains unsatisfied.
Kenya sells the fruit to Brazil, Colombia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Holland, France, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and Belgium.
Passion fruits are high in vitamins A and C and carotene, making them a vital, healthy food. The fruit is also utilized in the production of commercial juice.