We are very excited to report that the Passion Fruit project has been extremely successful. We started with around 50 farmers growing Passion Fruit and by the end of 2016 we will have 200 and it is projected that by the end of 2017, we will have 400! We have had to expand our nursery to accommodate the growth. As fast as we have our Passion Fruit Seedlings grafted and ready, we have a line of farmers waiting for them.
Once the seedlings begin to grow fruit, farmers are able to consistently harvest off of the same vines for 3 years before they have to replace them with new seedlings. Many crops in Kenya are seasonal which means farmers will experience some months where they produce nothing and have no income. Not only does Passion Fruit provide a regular income, there value is far greater then what they can make from maize, cabbages and other small vegetables. We are amazed at what they are making. They have never experienced such success.
As always, we would like to share with you a few testimonies so you can hear from the people directly.
Meet Caro Chemasong. Caro is 28 years old and a farmer of Passion Fruit. she recalls a time when things were not easy for her family. Her family did not make enough money to cover basic expenses. The daily income of her family came from maize and potatoes on their one acre farm. Her family’s most valuable assets were an old house and one cow.
“Our family used to face so many difficulties. We worked very hard to earn a living but could not make enough for foods, not to mention school fees for my son and hospital expenses for my self. I have been sick for the last twenty years. I got growth on my face, which needed medical attention. At the beginning, I had difficulties since I did not know much about Passion Fruit farming. Then everything got better and better. Fruited Plains provided me with a lot of training, knowledge and assistance, and my Passion Fruit trees have been growing well and bearing fruits. Now I collect Passion Fruits every week and sell them to pay medical bills and buy food for my family. The Passion crops have really transformed our lives. Many people come to visit our home and ask me about farming techniques. They recognize the fact that I am doing so well. I am ready and willing to help them with information on how to grow Passion Fruit so they can improve their standard of living. I am very happy to see people in my neighborhood doing well and able to take care of their needs as a result of growing this magic fruit. Thank You Fruited Plains. You have changed our lives.”
Caro shared with us that after suffering with the deformity on her face for over 20 years, she has raised enough money to have the growth surgically removed.
Boniface Kinyokie started farming Passion Fruit one year ago. Little did he know he was opening a new chapter in his life. The 23- year-old farmer said he had never thought of Agribusiness until he dropped out of college due to an inability to pay his tuition fee. Boniface shared that life was very tough. For this young man, Passion Fruit farming is his new found-love. He is currently growing .50 acres and from the look of the healthy fruits dangling from the vines; he is harvesting a big yield.
As Boniface escorted some of the Fruited Plains team through his farm he stated, “I depended on my parents for school fees and other needs as a young man. I come from a humble family with six other young siblings who also depend on my parents.”
Boniface adds that owing to hard economic times, he tried to think of a cash crop that could sustain him. Maize, cabbages, onions and potatoes had proven to be unprofitable and lacked markets. “When I heard about this crop I was excited. I choose to try Passion Fruit farming as it was being facilitated by Fruited Plains in my home area. It was back in June of 2015 when I planted my first 140 purple Passion Fruit plants on a quarter acre farm. I did my first harvesting in December, 10th 2015. Through Fruited Plains, I have been able to sell my fruits. I harvest the fruits, sort and weigh them at the warehouse before being handed produce collection note. Then they pay me after just one week!” Most brokers take four to five weeks to pay the farmers and many don’t pay them at all.
Boniface shared with our team enthusiastically; ‘Through the proceeds of Passion Fruits, I am able to pay school fees for my two younger siblings who are both in high school and also right now I am building a three room house for myself. Generally my life has changed a big deal. These fruits have helped me to go to the bank where I had never been before. It enabled me to open a bank account. Now I have an ATM card! My father has added me more shamba (land) to plant 300 more seedlings this year and I am excited to be part of the Fruited Plains family. Thank you Fruited Plains and God bless you.”
At her farm in Kimobo, Esther Chelimo, a 28-year-old farmer and mother of two inspects her Passion Fruit crop. She has been selling her fruit every week for the last seven months. Esther is one of the best farmers. Other farmers visit her farm to see her crop and seek her technical advice. She has managed to produce a great deal of Passion Fruit and like many other Fruited Plains farmers, is making an income that is unheard of on Mt. Elgon. Esther use to grow maize and cabbages, which she says, were not very profitable. She decided to try her hand in Passion Fruit in June of 2014. “In less than a year I have been farming Passion Fruit. I have realized that it’s very rewarding. Sometimes I look back and wonder where I would be with my cabbages and maize. I am happy,’’ she says with a wide smile on her face. “Our lives have changed since embarking onto this project. I’m able to earn much. It’s like a pay slip! I’ve been able to take my two children to the best schools in the area thanks to this Passion Fruit project, by Fruited Plains.” She is all smiles and proudly says that she earns an income every week from her Passion Fruit. “My family is eating well. They get three meals a day. In the past my family used to have a hunger period between April and June, at times going for a whole day without food, which is no longer the case. I have money to buy food and even my family’s health conditions have improved.”
This year Esther is planning to put up a 3-room house and buy a motorcycle to transport her fruits to the collection center. Esther told our team she recently bought a cow and named it Fruited Plains!
Meet 30-year-old Titus Barasa. He tells us with confidence, “Even young men like me can do it!” With a quarter of an acre of well-kept Passion Fruits, Titus is earning a very good income. He is harvesting weekly and receiving income on a weekly basis. This is something farmers in the past have not been able to accomplish with other crops.
“I am a living proof that Passion Fruit farming pays and can be done by anyone. Passion Fruit farming is hope. Passion Fruit farming is changing lives in this small village. Thanks to Fruited Plains, poverty is being reduced, people are having an extra income and development is coming in. I could not go on with my college education a couple of years back because my parents could not afford to pay my school fees. In fact, I completed my high school education with the help of well-wishers. This year I enrolled for college education- a diploma course in Supply Chain Management from Eldoret College of Professional studies. I am so happy because I am able to pay for myself college fees, something that I could never have done were it not for the Passion Fruit project.”
This year, Titus is planning to add more seedlings in his farm and help his father to grow the Passion Fruit so he too can have an income to provide for his family.