Passion fruit is a perennial vigorous vine, which grows to give oval or round shaped fruit. This vine is native to tropical regions of southern Brazil; this succulent fruit is also grown in Uganda and mainly in Masaka and Kasese districts.
However, passion fruits can be grown in many parts of Uganda.
The fruit is easy to grow as it gives back return on investment to the farmer in only 8-12 months.
WHERE TO FIND MARKET FOR YOUR PASSION FRUITS
In addition to the local Ugandan markets, the European, Canada, America, United Arab Emirates and the growing supermarkets in Burundi, D.R. Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan are the present new market opportunities for passion fruits grown in Uganda.
COMMON PASSION FRUIT VARIETIES IN
The purple Grandilla-Is popular for its scent and is locally known as Kasese, Masaka and Kenyan passion fruit variety. Highly resistant Kawanda hybrid is a cross between the local purple and the yellow passion fruits. Yellow passion fruit is grown for its aromatic but rather acidic pulp.
SOIL REQUIREMENTS FOR PASSION FRUITS
Passion fruit plants require fertile soils with plenty of mineral supply in order to achieve optimum growth and yields. A soil pH range of 6.0 to 6.5 is the best. Propagate your passion fruits using either seeds, stem cuttings, or even grafted prop gules.
HOW TO PLANT PASSION FRUITS IN AFRICA
-Plant passion fruit in at least (2×20) ft width and 3ft depth.
-The holes must be well fertilized.
-Open up the planting holes at least 2-3 months earlier. This gives room to kill the soil pests and it borne diseases.
-After mix the top soil with compost and then put it back, as this is very important at the initial stages.
-To further boost the plant growth, add NPK and CAN fertilizer at the climbing stage and when the branches start to develop.
-Harvest your passion fruits 4-6 weeks after transfer to the main field.
-Trellis the fruit plant with 270 cm long and 15 cm in diameter posts. Place these posts in 60 cm deep holes spaced at 6 m apart in rows midway between the plants.
-Opt for companion planting as you inter-crop passion fruits with green paper, onion, carrots and other short term veggies. However avoid crops like maize, banana, sugar canes as these are heavy feeders.
HOW TO HARVEST PASSION FRUITS IN UGANDA
Harvesting of passion fruit stars from 8-12 months especially for the purple ones. Pick fruit when they turn from green to purple, and when the calyx has dried up leaving a small stalk attached. For processing, fruits should preferably be left to drop on to clean mulch. They should not be plucked from their stems.
Usually fruits which have dropped can be collected once or twice a week. During the rainy season they should be picked up every other day and kept in a cool place.
QUICK TIPS FOR GROWING PASSION
• Deep plough the proposed site to open up soil for proper aeration and water filtration.
• Open up planting holes of (45x45x45) cm in advance.
• Mix the top soil with compost and then put it back to the hole.
• Transplant the germinated seedlings at the onset of the rainy season.
• Transplanting should be in the morning or late evening to reduce chances of their failure due to heat stress.
• Alternatively you could start with seeds.
• Soak the seeds in warm water to facilitate germination.
• Leave the seeds to air dry before main planting is done.
• Place the seeds in a 1 cm deep in polythene pots.
• Thinly cover with soil and then water to facilitate germination.
• When seedlings grow to a height of (20 to 25) cm, transplant them to their main location.
• Harvest passions when the green cover of the fruit turns purple.
• Invest in security by at your passion fruit garden by posting a full time Security guard and erecting a secure fence. This is especially useful during the harvest season.
Credit: Ministry of Agriculture