Farming

Bududa passion fruit farmer expects to harvest Shs18m

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Bwaya showing the grafted passion fruit in his garden, which is on the slopes of Mt Elgon. Photo by David Mafabi 

By DAVID MAFABI

Posted  Wednesday, December 18  2013 at  13:01
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On his three-quarter acre piece of land on slopes of Mt Elgon, Godfrey Bwaya and his wife set up a 20-by-21 square metre greenhouse in Makalama village, Bubuyela, Nakatsi Sub-county in 2010 and planted passion fruit.

He says he spent about Sh300,000 on the structure, agro-chemicals and set-up of a water basin, terraces and contours along Makalama hill for proper soil management and conservation in order to not to lose the water through runoff.
Under Shunya Yetana Community Based Organisation, Bwaya put up a passion fruit business built on raising agricultural output through better seed and farm management as well as clear market channels.

An opportunity
The passion fruits mark a shift from the traditional matooke and maize farming that has become synonymous with Bududa.
On Bwaya’s garden, there are 560 passion fruit vines intercropped with coffee, and trees to provide shade and act as supports since it is a climbing plant.

His crop is the traditional purple passion fruit (Passiflora f. edulis). “I had not considered growing it on a commercial scale but since I discovered that purple passion fruits could do well under good soil and land management, I decided to grow it instead of matooke and maize.”

He says passion fruit matures inside eight months and can be harvested four times a month, depending on the availability of rain. This variety has a lifespan of three to three and half years.
He reveals that United Nations Development Programme, through Global Environment Facility, funded Shinyu Yetana, a community based organisation, to teach people about how to improve land management and soil conservation.

“I took up this as an opportunity, I started terracing and contouring my land before I dug water basins and discovered that the easiest way that you can prevent soil erosion is to plant different types of vegetables and fruits. This is how I started growing passion fruits as early as 2007,” Bwaya explains.

He first planted 240 passion fruit vines and by 2009, he would harvest 20 to 25 kilogrammes per week.
“I sold these at Shs3,000 per kilogramme and I earned Shs 240,000 per month on average. In a year, I had Shs2.8m, this made me abandon matooke and cabbages for the passion fruits,” he says.

His wife, Ms Bwaya, says from the current 560 vines, they expect to harvest even more. It is a new variety produced after grafting the yellow type with the purple one to produce a drought- and pest-resistant passion fruit.

Better harvest
“We shall earn more from this resistant type and our target is to have everyone to start growing passion fruits across the hills as one way of managing land and conserving the soil,” she says. With passion fruits, her family is assured of a daily, weekly and monthly income to cater for the children’s needs.

The grafted variety was planted in October and that the first harvest will be in March 2014 and will go on for the next eight months before he moves onto another garden for another harvest. “I actually expect to earn a gross income of about Sh18.6m in the first season and another Shs12m in the next season,” says Mr Bwaya.

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