Dennis Nguma, 29, is a purple passion fruit farmer from Mavindini, Makueni County.
Despite his success in passion fruit farming, the budding farmer has also experienced lowest moments which include losing his crops to drought in 2020.
Nguma uses money from passion fruits to support his masters degree course in agricultural and applied economics at the University of Nairobi.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
Nguma had initially ventured into papaya farming but he later changed to passion fruit farming after visiting a friend practicing it.
By the time he ventured into farming, the agriculture agronomist was halfway through his masters degree at UoN.
He opted to practice farming on his quarter-acre farm following the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted his studies.
Nguma plants purple passion fruit which is grafted with the yellow passion fruit which is used as the rootstock.
“The result is a tree which is adapted to drought. We recommend mature scions as the fruits mature fast,” Nguma explained.
While grafting is done three months after germination, transplanting takes place a month after grafting.
The plants must be planted in a leveled and a well ploughed field mounted with poles and wires which are used to attach the tendrils.
“The pits are 30cm deep. A mixture of manure and top soil fills a pit to three-quarters. The remaining bit is for water and mulch. Spacing from plant to plant is three metres and 1.5 metres between rows,” Nguma said.
The farmer explained that harvesting starts when the plants are seven to eight months old while peak production starts after a year.
Before peak production, Nguma harvests 20 kilos of fruits, selling a kilo at Ksh 100; at peak production, he expects to be harvesting more than 500 kilos weekly.
Nguma’s lowest moment was in 2020 when he lost his crops to drought, even though he had a small water pan at the farm.
However, in 2021, he sunk a well that he uses to water his passion fruit plants; he uses drip irrigation to save water.
Nguma also has beehives near his orchard as they enhance fruit formation.