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?
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.