By MN Reporter
From God Jope area in Suna West constituency Samson Ochieng’ a passion fruit farmer is reaping big from his unique venture.
Ochieng’ orchard has been used to demonstrate to other farmers allied to Manywa Self Help Group which caters for fruit farming.
He said Anglican Development Services trained them.
“When planting passion fruit for commercial purpose, the land have to be cleared of weed and shrubs with the land tilled at least twice to ensure the soil is soft and ready for transplanting seedlings,” he narrates.
The best seedling used is the purple species, Passiflora edulis, grafted on top of the yellow species, Passiflora flavicarpa, for better yields as yellow species is least aromatic buts is disease resistant and have deeper roots.
“The purple variety is tastier and best when blended as juice because of strong aroma and faster fruit maturity,” Ochieng’ said.
Flowering and harvesting starts in nine months and is done in a weekly basis for nine months.
“The seedlings are planted six meters apart and two meters between rows. We use nine foot treated eucalyptus poles treated against termites and rot and strewn with barbed wire, which are placed after every two plants and propped at the end for support,” he says.
Pruning of tendrils is done once the plants reach the top of the wire to ensure branches called laterals grow downward and give maximum yields.
The end product is a straight line of passion fruit orchard with branches facing downwards laden with fruits and pruned further.
When this management is followed a lateral can produce about 26 fruits weighing 2 kilos while a single plant can have 24 laterals making it produce 620 fruits or 48 kilos.
“The fruits grow per season along a lateral from an acre in a season of three months an acre can produce 400-500 kilos in the first year, afterwards in second and third year it picks at maturity to up to 2,000 kilos per season,” he explains.
With a kilo of fruit fetching Sh80 per kilo, a season can give the farmer Sh40,000 in first three months and Sh160,000 in a season. Annually, in three season harvest a year, a farmer is assured of Sh480,000.
Because it takes longer to produce the trees are intercropped with kunde (cow peas) and beans for maximum yield.