Passion Fruit Farming Makes For a Ready International Market, After Certification

In Kenya farmers as a far as Kitale harvest about 100 kilograms of passion fruit each seven days from just half an acre. There are even situations where a hectare can produce fifty thousand kilograms in a single harvesting season. The fruit growers usually transact the fruits readily to both local resellers, supermarkets and international markets. EU, North America and the Middle-East are several such destinations that present a good opportunity for especially the purple variety.

Quality is one hindrance that determines whether or not to sell locally or internationally. Purple passion, when processed ought to have some of the highest freshness index and brix levels of up to 15 percent and hence the need for organic measures. However, local farmers have come to know how to conform to a strict market that deals in quality through certifications.

GAP Certification Process

The application process for Good Agricultural Practices for a passion fruit farmer in Kenya is costly yet beneficial. The first step involves sending an application to the Kenya GAP website. This is followed by a field visit by the auditing team to assess whether the farm adheres to responsible agriculture. Three or such follow-up visits that cost around KSH150000 ($150), combined lead to certification. Some passion famers with incentive can request for external valuation which may go up to KSH 80,000 on a daily basis.

The certification process is usually fair and impartial. The team assesses whether the fruit trees are growing under international organic stipulations. For instance, tests on the soil and fruits can determine the level of chemical use. This reduces the chances of exporting fruits with more than 0.01 percent of the minimum residual levels (MRLs). Indeed, much of the local produce, especially legumes have had bans due to excessive fungicide use, a lesson that farmers have learnt.

The next step of the GAP certification process is that of measuring the environmental concerns of the passion fruit orchard. These are not limited to the kind of protective clothing (PPE) that the farmhands use. After a brief on good agricultural practices such as hygienic handling of harvests, the farmer than needs to attend occasional GAP trainings before certification.

The training part is usually at the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) branches countrywide.  During the classes, the farmers learn about the kind of sprays to avoid and if they must use them, the type to use and the minimum measure to employ. Soil enrichment also covers the necessity for reliance on farmyard organic manure and the recommended fertilizer levels to use without diminishing the quality of the fresh fruits.

After the awarding of the GAP certificate, passion fruit sellers in Kenya are able to transact their sales in city grocery stores that only accept fruits from certified farmers. They are also able to export to the global markets which are strict on fresh quality. For instance in the EU, the purple variety is the most common and the requirements are for blemish-free fruits. The EU also maintains similar stipulations for the processed pulp and passion fruit concentrate with purity and high brix content being a measure of quality.

Therefore, if you are on the search for purple or yellow passion fruits from the tropics, you may consider Kenya’s certified family growers. The fruits come from such areas as Western Kenya, Central Rift and Central, all in the highlands. The produce is highly productive in the country and a single hectare can offer up to 50 tons in exceptional times. A kilogram currently costs KSH50 ($0.5).