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Kenya: Increasing potential for passionfruit exports

Good news for Kenya's passion fruit growers who, it seems, have the potential to increase their exports, despite a growing demand domestically.

A new market analysis by the Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project suggested that Uganda would continue to be the main export destination for the country's passion fruit. Export to the EU has been dropping in the face of increased demand domestically.

However, it is not just in Kenya that demand is rising - there is growing consumer interest internationally in general and this means opportunity for Kenyan growers.

Data from the KHCP indicate that Uganda accounted for 76 percent of passion fruit exports in 2010, followed by the European Union (EU) and Middle East at 17 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

"In 2010 exports to Uganda declined by 17 percent from 2009 figures which is attributed to shortage in production and increased domestic consumption," notes the report.

The data shows that in the same year, Kenya exported 779 metric tonnes (MT) of passion fruit to the EU constituting 8 percent of the import market.

"The Kenyan passion fruit share of the EU market has declined significantly over the years -from 51 percent in 2005. This is mainly attributed to interceptions at point of entry due to pesticide residues, diseases such as woody virus, and general deterioration in product quality," said the report.

Given the case of increasing demand there is a clear case for the extension of production.

"The ongoing interventions to train farmers in good agricultural practices, establish certified nurseries and subsequent propagation of clean planting material, form a basis for expanding production," the report suggested.

KHCP, which is a United States development agency (USAID) supported project to empower small scale horticulture farmers said investments in irrigation technologies will provide the smallholder farmers with opportunities for year-round production as well as facilitate an increased cultivation area.

Kenya can produce passion fruit all year round, though there is a heavy reliance on rain based irrigation, which does limit seasonal availability.

The report says that for the potential growth to take place certain issues need to be addressed, namely quality standards, disease control and pesticide residues.

The report also says that draft technical advice to passion fruit growers has been prepared, which it hopes will improve production, supply, and access to clean plating materials.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation the international market fro passion fruit is expected to grow due to the consumer trend of seeking more and more exotic fruit varieties. Trade statistics show that the largest importer of tropical fruits in general is the United States , followed by EU, Japan and China .

Passion fruit production in Kenya has grown from 53,396 MT in 2005 to 104,437 MT in 2010.

Publication date: 3/26/2012


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