While pursuing Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Information Technology (BMIT) at Kabarak University, Patrick Kirui used to source passion fruits from farmers and sell to consumers. He would later graduate in 2018 to start growing his own fruits, a venture which is currently earning him Sh60,000 per month.
“I started selling passion fruits in 2014, when I was still a student. I was introduced into the busineas by a friend and we could spend only Sh100 to buy some fruits from farmers and sell to individuals and open-air markets in Nakuru Town,” said Kirui.
This would be part of a training which would usher him into lucrative passion fruit production.
He gradually raised Sh50, 000. In this, he used Sh20, 000 of the amount to lease two acres of land in Nakuru for passion farming. He used the remaining Sh30, 000 to plough land, buy herbicides, fertilizer and labour. He was lucky to receive free seedling from one of his relatives.
From his farm, Kirui harvests an average of 600kg of passion fruits.
Currently, a kilo of passion fruits in Nakuru retails at Sh120. He, therefore, earns Sh72,000 before deduction of transport costs which cost him Sh12,000 monthly transporting the produce 50km away from the town.
Kirui does not only depend on his passion fruit farming but also buy passion fruits from other small scale farmers who cannot easily access market to boost his earning.
“Sometimes when I am ferrying my produce to the market, I buy more fruits from my village and sell them at a profit to boost my earnings,” he said.
One of the major challenges he faces is fluctuating market prices.
“When the supply at the market is high, the demand lowers and thus we end up selling a kilo of passion fruit at Sh80 which is a huge loss especially for those of us who have a high stock,” he said.
Despite the challenge, Kirui is planning to put up a factory for value edition which will enable him and other farmers sell their produce directly to consumers and big retail outlets without passing through middlemen, who he says deny farmers their full returns.
“I would rather farm passion fruits than work for other people who will rarely value my input. I honestly don’t know how my life as a marketer would be but the truth of the matter is that I am enjoying my career as a farmer,” said Kirui.
Kirui urged other graduate to take up the endless opportunities in agriculture sector to make a living instead of sitting and waiting for white collar jobs.
According to the National Farmers Service, the demand for the fruit in the local and international market is still unmet.
Kenya exports the fruit to Brazil, Colombia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Holland, France, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Germany and Belgium.
Passion fruits are very rich in Vitamins A and C and carotene making it an important health food. The fruit is also used for commercial juice processing.