What has Covid-19 pandemic taught you?
Well , on one informal staff chat , a colleague asked what I do for fun, now that everyone works from home. That was not an easy question to crack. You see, when all this happened, I sought to stay at my rural home, atleast where I would be safe ,enjoy milk and honey as we wait for the predicament to pass.
On the other hand , I was excited that it would be an opportunity to work out and probably learn some other techniques. The word fun was somehow puzzling, not because I lacked something to do for fun, but because it was a busy season , graced with heavy rains. This would only mean to sharpen our hoes and machetes and prepare for the planting season. For this part of the world, farming is one of the major economic activity and you just don’t take planting season for granted. This period has taught me the importance of food security and the need to have them in plenty, enough to feed the nation (pun intended).
Growing food is such an interesting venture, which I would have never known , back when I was a teenager. Going to the shamba used to seem like a punishment , but right now it makes sense! I think the realization comes with age!
Oh well , this period has made me to enjoy passion fruit farming , goat rearing and gardening, just to mention a few.
Passion Fruit Farming
For some years now , farmers in some parts of the northrift area have sought to venture into passion fruit farming , minting great fortunes from the tropical fruit. However , due to the Pandemic , many farmers have been affected due to the drop in the retail price of the fruit.
On good days , a Kilogramme of passion fruits ranges from ksh 65-80-100 in some places . On average days, it ranges from Ksh 50-65 per Kilogramme , while on lower scale , as it has been witnessed by Covid-19, it retails at Ksh 30- 40 per Kilogramme , or even below that.
Growing passion fruit vines takes 4-6 months, depending on the region and availability of water/rain and correct temperatures.
Passion fruit seedlings costs between Ksh 5- 10 for local breed, but for grafted seedlings, it costs more , depending with the type.
While I will not go to the nitty gritties of how it is grown, some notable challenges includes ;
- Destruction of flowers by birds. This is a major challenge , since birds can heavily destroy flowers, which you may end up with no fruit. To keep the birds away, some traditional methods such as using scare crows can be used , or manually/physically chasing the birds.
- Sagging of supporting poles/wires. Heavy vines usually results to sagging of wires and poles used to support. You therefore need regular check up and also use strong poles.
- Regular weeding and spraying to prevent blight and other diseases.
- The buying price is determined by middle men/ brokers.
Passion fruits are among the top products exported from Kenya. Tapping into the potential of the fruit, farmers from the northrift region can produce tonnes of passion fruits and benefit more from it. The good thing with passion fruit farming , is that you can harvest once or twice a week, depending with the size of land. This surpasses maize farming , which the prices have been relatively low for the past few years.
In the coming blog, I will share some tips (if any) of Goat farming.