Kwale farmers target juicy passion markets
Posted Monday, June 25 2012 at 19:30
- More than 3,000 women farmers are set to be empowered with pre- and post-harvest farming techniques, processing technologies, value addition methods and marketing strategies to increase their income and improve living standards.
Farmers in Kwale county have found a new love in passion fruits. They not only want the top producer position at the Coast, but are focused on value addition.
They want to start making juices and not just sell the raw fruit.
In 2010, the county produced 8.4 million tonnes of the fruit and earned about Sh155 million. Now, more women groups are teaming up to plant the cash crop and process it.
There are about one million passion fruits stems in the county with 75 per cent in Kubo, Kwale District, while the rest are spread around Msambweni District.
The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute has also introduced three superior varieties to the 3,800 farmers. They are Brazil, KPF4, and C5 with a yield of 30 tonnes per hectare more than the local yellow variety.
Poor husbandry, unscrupulous middlemen, and inadequate water supply during dry season are some of the challenges for the farmers.
Others are inadequate access to quality planting materials, unreliable markets, post-harvest losses, lack of processing and value addition technologies and weak institutional linkages.
“It is a stressing period that precedes the harvesting season. Termites eat the tree poles that we use to form the passion bed and the ropes are normally very expensive,” said Eunice Sammy, a farmer in Mivumoni-Msambweni.
Wallace Kamami, another farmer in Mwaluvamba, says passion-bed farming has fewer yields and is more expensive than bush farming, probably due to the direct exposure to the sun and the cost of pruning.
To help farmers overcome these challenges, Kari bid for support from FARM Africa, which was among six successful projects in Kenya from the 342 requests sent from Eastern Africa.
The second successful proposal from Kenya was a mango fruit project in Kitui.
In turn, more than 3,000 women farmers in the county will be empowered with pre- and post-harvest farming techniques, processing technologies, value addition methods and marketing strategies to increase their income and improve living standards.
According to FARM Africa’s project co-ordinator Monicah Nyang, the money will be used to upgrade the value chain to a level that it arrives at the markets in a better state than how it left the farms.
“We are putting up demonstration farms to train farmers on social organisation, technical skills and value addition to ensure that a good product reaches the market,” said Ms Nyang.