Well, it is not students who meet here but a group of passion fruit farmers. They congregate in the compound every Friday afternoon with their harvest for sale.
Majority use motorbikes to ferry up to three 90kg bags of their produce to the collection centre, others carry the fruits on their backs.
“The harvest varies from farm to farm and some of our members bring over 100kg every week while others as little as 5kg,” says Joseph Koech, Simoti location chief and the chair of Chepkikon Self-Help Group.
The area has experienced a boom in passion fruit farming that has seen farmers shift from maize and tea.
Chepkikon members came together in 2012 after being trained by TechnoServe, an NGO. Initially, the group had 75 members but currently, only 50 are active.
After the training, each member bought 80 seedlings for planting at Sh.20 per piece. This was enough to cover a tenth of an acre.
Koech planted 160 seedlings in his farm in Chongenwo village. The grafted seedlings are planted in 0.6 by 0.6m holes in a spacing of 2m between rows and 3m within rows. The top soil is mixed with well-composted manure.
At the collection centre, the fruits are sorted and graded then packed in 30kg crates for transportation to Nairobi where the maximum residue level is checked before being cleaned and packed in 2kg packets for Europe.
A tree should give at least a kilo of fruit every week but in ideal situations, the yield goes to over 2kg per tree, per week.
Harvesting is mainly done every week but this can be affected by routine field practices like pruning and chemical application.
Koech’s biggest harvest in a week has been 156kg and the lowest 50kg. During our visit, we witnessed Koech recording 108kg, equivalent to Sh.7,560 if the buyer pays the least price of Sh.70 per kilo.
Please use this article to make money from passion fruit farming.
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