- John Magaju rakes in about Sh600,000 annually from three-acre passion fruit farm but his first attempt went up in smoke. Now he is wiser and more determined.
- To harvest big and well-ripened fruits, Mr Magaju says one should find a spot that receives full sunlight and one that does not have any competitive roots, like tree roots.
- Spacing between rows is 3m. Part of this space can be utilised by inter cropping with beans or peas. Spacing between vines in a row is 5m.
- Patrick Kiunga, an agronomist from Mikinduri Hope organization in Meru County advises passion fruit farmers to use sufficient calcium, zinc and boron to reduce deficiencies of diseases.
A few kilometres off Meru-Embu road in Central Imenti is a successful passion fruit farm.
The day Seeds of Gold team visits John Magaju’s farm at Baragu village, we find him busy removing suckers from newly planted fruits.
Mr Magaju has leased a three-acre piece of land from his neighbour since his farm is already occupied with tea bushes, bananas and coffee.
He reveals to us more about his farming business.
He has planted 600 passion seedlings but he will soon adding another 400 to make it 1,000.
He says farming passion fruits is very profitable compared to other farming activities he had been practising before.
Due to high returns, less labour and the fruit occupying less space, Mr Magaju opted to quit planting other crops and concentrated on this.
The 59 year-old farmer says what’s fascinating is that the fruits have a ready market. He sells some to locals direct from his farm and takes the rest to markets in Meru and Embu.
Some days brokers storm his farm to buy for export, he says.
The father of five says he started passion fruit farming back in 2009 but unfortunately his 1,000 trees dried up and he gave up on farming. But ever the go-getter, in 2013 decided to give it a try once more but carefully following instructions given to him an agricultural officer in Meru
With Sh450,000 as his capital, Mr Magaju was extra careful not to repeat the same mistakes he did during his first try in 2009.
The Form Four leaver acquired this money from savings he made from bananas, coffee and tea on his farm.
“To make sure I don’t fail again, I always attend agricultural shows, field days and farming exhibitions. These gives me the know-how,” Mr Magaju says.
To harvest big and well-ripened fruits, Mr Magaju says one should find a spot that receives full sunlight and one that does not have any competitive roots, like tree roots.
Also thorough site selection which involves soil testing, pest and disease survey, temperature and availability of water are key essentials in this type of farming.