Passion fruit growing in Uganda has increased over the years from the time that it was introduced into the country and this is because of the increased ready market for the fruits across the country. The initial capital for starting passion fruit farming is not big for as long as you have land where you can plant the passion fruits. The purple passion fruits have a lifespan of 18 months whereas the improved grafted breed commonly known as Kawanda has a life span of 5 years. Passion fruits have two harvest seasons and they can be harvested when they reach 4 or 6 months.
When starting up a passion fruit garden, you need to build a trellis which helps the climbing plants in proper growth. If the plant has too many leaves, you have to remove most of them so as to allow the plant to get proper sunlight and also proper growth of the flowers.
Benefits of growing passion fruits include increased income after harvesting, they are a source of nutrients and they are a source of income to the workers that work in the farms. And some of the challenges faced include the ever changing Ugandan weather affects the fruits, pests and diseases, stiff competition from other farmers and low costs on the market.
The types of passion fruits that are on the Ugandan market are commonly known as Kasese and Masaka and below is a full description of the types that can be grown across the country.
Types of passion fruits
The main types of passion fruits grown in Uganda include:
The purple passion fruit
The purple passion fruit is about 4 to 6 cm and oval shaped and it got its name because it changes colours from green to purple when they are ready for harvesting. This is the main type of passion fruit grown in Uganda and commonly used while making juice. It can be grown in temperatures of about 2000 metres above sea level. They normally drop from the trees when they are ready although you can also pick them. They have a very good flavour and that is why they have a high market demand.
Sweet Granadilla passion
The sweet Granadilla passion can be grown in cooler environments and they turn from blue to orange brown when they are ripe. They have a good flavour and the best thing about them is that they can easily be transported without damaging themselves because of their hard core outer rind.
The banana passion fruit
The yellow passion fruit is large as compared to the others. Most farmers like it because it is more resistant to diseases and it can easily be grafted. It turns from green to yellow when it is ready for harvesting.
Granilla passion fruit
The Granilla passion fruit has the largest passion tree and it is also known as the giant passion. The passion tree rises to a height of about 30m and the fruits are best eaten when they are fresh.
Market for passion fruits in Uganda
Kasese and Masaka are the leading districts in passion fruit growing and their final products are common on the Ugandan market although you can still plant in other parts of the country with the increasing technology in agriculture. There is a ready market for passion fruits in Uganda and the cost of a sack depends on the seasons and the type but an estimation goes between 400,000shs and 1000,000shs.
Planting of passion fruits
The first thing that you need to do before planting passion fruits is by ploughing the land so that it is ready for when you start planting. The soil should be well aerated and well drained in order to allow the passion fruits to grow properly. One of the best ways in avoiding diseases from attacking the passion fruits is by carrying out crop rotation. The holes used for planting should be at least 60cm by 60cm and they should be dug at least 2 months before the actual planting. The vines are supposed to be with a maximum of 3 meters within rows and 2 meters between the rows.
Transplanting of the passion fruit seedlings is done when the rains start and these are some of the things that you should know while transplanting in order to avoid damage to the seedling.
3 weeks before transplanting fill the holes with fertilizers (farmyard manure). Other forms of fertilizers that you can use include CAN (applied 1 month after transplanting) and farm yard manure mixed with superphosphate.
Transplanting is done either early in the morning or in the late afternoons
The seedlings are first grafted in a seed bed and when the rains start, transplanting is done.
When planting in dry areas make sure that there is enough water and the land is properly mulched.
The seedlings are supposed to be covered up to the polytube.
You need to see and know that the roots on the seedling are not folded.
The passion fruits need to be sprayed after three months with trace and foliar elements.
You also need to get seeds that are disease free and these can be got from the different agricultural shops across the country. Most farmers carry out grafting for passion fruits and this is because of the following.
Grafted passion fruits are disease resistant
They can be harvested for a longer period of time
Passion fruits are climbing plants and they need support. One way you can do that is by doing crop rotation so that they can use other plants as support or you can construct poles within the passion fruit farm that will act as support to the passion fruits.
Dead and large vines on the passion fruits should be removed with immediate effect so that they do not affect other passion fruits. Entangled Tendrils should also be removed so that fresh air and sunlight can get in. Cutting down the tendrils also reduces disease spread among the passion fruits.
Pests and Diseases affecting passion fruits in Uganda
The woodiness virus
This is caused by a virus and you can identify it by the fruits having a woody texture, the plants are stunted, drying up of leaves and distortion of leaves. It can be prevented by eliminating weeds and also sterilizing the tools that are used for pruning the passion fruits.
This is a deadly disease which affects passion fruits and it causes the plant to dry out and die. The symptoms will be the vines turning into brown and the only way to prevent the Fusarium wilt is by use of a grafted yellow passion rootstock.
Blight affects both the seedlings and the mature passion fruits and it causes dark water like substance on the leaves and it later on spreads through the plant causing it to die out. Daconil and Polyram are best used when it comes to treating blight.
In order to avoid some of the above mentioned diseases and pests, you need to spray every week especially during the rainy season.
After harvesting the passion fruits, you need to care for them so that by the time they get to the market they are still in good shape. Below are some of the things that you should do during and after harvesting the passion fruits.
Wooden containers should be used when picking the passion fruits. This helps in reducing bruising of the fruits.
The sorting process is next and this is where all the fruits that are damaged and immature are separated from the healthy ones.
Use a clean damp cloth to clean the fruits and then arrange them according to colour and size.
If you are planning on transporting the fruits to outside countries, then you should immediately cool them between 5 to 7 degrees Celsius until they reach their final destination.
The passion fruits should be packed in firmly fitted boxes in order to avoid damages during the transportation process.