Grow Passion Fruit in Uganda Climate

In Uganda, passion fruits have traditionally been grown in a smaller scale. Perhaps there are areas where it even grew accidentally. Commercial production of passion fruits on an industrial scale is still a very new concept in the country. However, this is where the money lies. So how can transform yourself from a small scale subsistence or accidental farm into a commercial scale profitable farmer growing your passion fruits for exports and processing?

Passionfruit Seedlings
Passionfruit Seedlings

For one, having the right information is key. You need to know the right variety of passion fruit to plant, the best soils, soil preparation, husbandry and how to control the pests and diseases in order to maximize your yield. If you haven’t, check out our Passion Fruit Guide for a comprehensive coverage and information on commercial and successful passion fruit farming.

Here is a summary of some of the steps to follow to be a successful passion fruit farmer in Uganda:-

The land preparation stage

The ideal soil type for growing your passion fruit is sandy loam soil.

The soil type shouldn’t be a limitation, however. There are ways in which you can prepare the land in order to create the ideal planting conditions. Some of the steps that you can undertake include the following:-

  • Start by ploughing and preparing the land. This will make it easier for you to dig holes into it and plant your passion fruits. The planting holes should be at least 2 feet wide and 1 feet deep.
  • You can separate the refilling soil and mix it with some manure.
  • Put well composed organic matter into the hole where you are going to plant the passion fruit. Do this at least two weeks before you plant the passion fruits.
  • There is always the risk of fungi in the manure that might affect your passion fruit so it is always advisable to add some fungicide to the soil and manure mixture.

If you will be planting the passion fruits during the dry season, you should water the holes a day before and a day after planting the passion fruits.

The spacing from one passion fruit plant to another or from one hole to another should be 3m by 2m or 10 feet by 7 feet. With good labour supply, you can plant the passion fruits very close to one another. However, with no labour supply and where you will be doing all the planting and plant management all on your own, space them widely. Passion fruit farming in Uganda is generally a labour-intensive undertaking.

Passion fruit seedlings are generally wrapped with a polythene bag so this should be removed during the planting and properly disposed of so as to ensure the soil is well aerated.

For better growth, dip the roots of the passion fruit seedlings into a root stimulant.

What are the varieties of passion fruit to plant in Uganda?

The main passion fruit varieties that you can plant in Uganda include the following:-

  • The local purple traditional passion fruit variety
  • The local purple hybrid passion fruit variety

The Soil and the Nutrition

There are various steps that you can undertake so as to improve the soil quality and ensure better yields for your passion fruits. For passion fruit farming in Uganda, organic manure can be quite effective and also easily accessible. If you raise other domestic animals such as chickens and cattle, you can easily source organic fertilizer from your backyard. You can also prepare compost manure.

Passion fruits are vigorous plants and generally require fertilizers such as potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. The levels of amount to add will depend on the various stages of growth of the passion fruit.

In case you planted the passion fruits using manure, add NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) fertilizers after one month. In the second month, use the TSP or Triple Super Phosphate Fertilizer or the Single Super Phosphate (SSP) Fertilizer. With time, you can interchange this with the Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN). This will help in the development of the fruit tissue and also helps in strengthening the cover of the fruit. You can use organic and inorganic fertilizers interchangeably.

Marketing Passion Fruits in Uganda

You can sell your passion fruits to different categories of buyers in the Ugandan market and even abroad. These can include wholesalers, restaurants, retailers, individual customers, traders, and supermarkets among others. Regionally, Kenya is one of the biggest markets for passion fruits. There are also growing export markets such as China and the UAE. Prices vary widely depending on the market.

Weeding Your Passion Fruit

You can weed your passion fruits at various stages during the planting. A garden free of weeds will generally give you an excellent harvest. In case you decide to weed your passion fruits, make sure you don’t leave the ground bare. Spread some mulch or leave some grass bands around the roots of passion fruit to protect the roots and help in keeping the soil moist.  You can also intercrop the passion fruits with crops such as strawberries which provide for good cover crops.

Storing Your Passion Fruits

Store the fruits in a cool place. In that condition, they can last for more than two weeks without getting spoilt. Before you harvest the fruits, apply some CAN to prolong the shelf life of the fruits. In Uganda, however, a lot of the passion fruit produced is sold almost immediately.

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Growing Tips and Due Diligence

Support System for Giant Passion Fruits in the Philippines

Passion fruit plants are generally sensitive to environmental stress. It is therefore important to carefully choose a suitable site where you will carefully plant the passion fruit seeds with the correct spacing.

Vines typically do well in a natural rain forest environment where the plants are well protected from the environmental extremes. Generally, the plants are therefore not naturally hardy. If passion fruit plants are grown on a site that is unsuitable, they are going to give lower yields and you are going to grow them at a higher cost than those that have been grown on a more favorable location.

You Can Make Your Passion Fruit Plants to Yield More Fruits
Fruiting Passion Fruit Plants

An unsuitable site will eat into your margins and will in many cases incur financial losses. Before you venture into passion fruit farming, it is important to carefully choose a suitable site for planting.

Wind Protection

The site selected should be well sheltered from the winds. Wind exposure will cause a lot of stress on the passion fruit vines and this will end up reducing the vigour of the plants. This will subsequently reduce their yield and quality. If the winds are strong, the fruits will move in the wind against the stems of the vines, trellis wires and posts and this will cause rub marks on the fruits. These fruits will be considered second-grade and unsuitable for the fresh market. They will therefore fetch a much lower price in the market.

The Aspect

The aspect is a very important consideration when choosing a site for planting your passion fruits. The best aspect is usually a northerly or north-easterly one as this will give the plants maximum protection from the cold south westerly winds or southern winds. This aspect also ensures that the passion fruit plants stay warmer for longer and get the most sunshine which is good for vigor and fruit development.

The Slope

Usually, a steep slope means that you have to put up with higher production costs. These will mainly go into the erosion control measures like contour planting and cut-off drains. Other extra costs will go into purchasing 4WD vehicles and utilities. Steeper slopes also mean slower machinery and human rate of work and this will add to the cost of producing your passion fruits. A steep slope also increases the risk of accidents in the farm.

The Row Orientation

It is very important that you have proper row orientation. The rows should run from north to south in order to optimize the vines access to sunlight and give the fallen fruits better shade protection. If the rows run from east to west, there is likely to be significant sunburn damage on the mature fruits that fall on the ground. If you have a large farm, you can incorporate long rows in order to allow for machinery efficiency. However, there are certain features that may limit the options for row orientation on your passion fruit farm. These include factors such as sloping terrain and a narrow block shape.

Frost

The site where you are planting your passion fruits should be frost-free. The purple passion fruit varieties are generally affected by frost as they shed leaves and the passion fruit yield reduces. The Panama selections of passion fruits are even more susceptible to frost damage than the purple passion fruit varieties.

Soils

Passion fruit plants are deeply affected by root diseases that occur commonly in wet soil. The soil where you are growing your passion fruit plants should be well-drained. The internal soil drainage and the surface drainage should be excellent. Before you plant passionfruit, it is advisable to mound the rows so as to improve the surface drainage. However, improving poor internal drainage is generally more difficult. That is why you should start by choosing well-drained soils in the first place.

Irrigation

To maximize the fruit quality and the yield of your passion fruit farm, you may need to invest in irrigation. The water used for irrigation should have a low salt content. In some councils, you may also need to get irrigation licenses in order to proceed with irrigating your land.

Market for Your Passion Fruit

Local markets are usually the best due to the cost of freight and the fact passion fruits are perishable. Freight companies usually have a minimum consignment size and if you are grower, you may need to deliver your passion fruit harvest to the nearest pickup point.

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Nutrients in Passion Fruit

A single passion fruit is loaded with more than 300 black seeds which are edible. Passion fruits also have a unique and complex taste like aroma. While the taste is a little tropical, it is also citrusy, sweet and tart all at one go. There are more than two hundred varieties of passion fruits planted globally. While the purple-black skinned variety of passion fruits is still the most popular, the yellow passion fruit variety is also growing in popularity with many consumers globally. It is best for processing passion fruit juices.

A Delicious Passion Fruit Blend
A Delicious Passion Fruit Blend

When fully ripe, the skin of the passion fruit will be wrinkled and brittle but don’t be turned off  by the look of the skin. Inside the passion fruit, you will find a very succulent yellow flesh. A single passion fruit consists of about 16 calories and is packed with lots of vitamins A and C. Passion fruit is also a great source of fibre when it is eaten with the seeds.

When growing passion fruits, it is important to ensure that the passion fruit plant is on a very strong support system. Usually, a trellis or trellising system is used when growing the passion fruit.

The passion fruit plant will grow to about 20 feet every year and can easily take over a support system such as fencing or tree. Once grown, the passion fruit will keep on fruiting for 8 years before you will need to replace it.

Making a Passion Fruit Salad dressing

One of the best way to consume passion fruit is by making a sweet tart salad dressing of passion fruits with strawberries and baby spinach or even a salad consisting of greens, pear slices as well as blue cheese crumbles.

The ingredients that you will need for its preparation include the following:-

  • Two to three passion fruits
  • A half a cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • A tablespoon of lime juice
  • A tablespoon of vinegar
  • Two tablespoons of honey
  • A quarter tablespoon of salt

Directions for Preparations

  • Slice the passion fruit into half and scrap off the passion fruit pulp along with the seeds into a saucepan. Cook the passion fruit pulp over low heat until it comes close to the boiling point and then remove it from the heat.
  • The strain the passion fruit pulp through a fine sieve or a colander and get rid of the seeds. Allow the passion fruit juice to cool down.
  • Place the cooled passion fruit into a blender jar alongside the olive oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice and salt and blend the mixture until it is smooth.
  • Store the passion fruit salad dressing in a refrigerator for duration of up to a week. You can stir and shake the blend before you use it.
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