CHALLENGES FACING PASSION FRUIT SMALLHOLDER FARMERS IN NORTH RIFT REGION OF KENYA
Vision 2030 and the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy in Kenya identified the transformation of the agricultural sector as a key stimulus in providing economic growth especially during the current global recession. Passion fruit production is an economically important crop that contributes to this strategy by earning the country foreign exchange, generating income for smallholder farmers. In addition it can be utilized for the domestic market to improve the health status of children and HIV patients in particular. Passion fruit production is constrained by abiotic and biotic factors in the North Rift region of Kenya as recently outcried by farmers in this region after high crop losses. Surveys were carried out in three Uasin Gichu districts to determine causes of these losses by collecting data on pests and diseases, on planting materials, the conditions under which farmers lost their crop and management practices. Most farms registered presence of viruses and dieback diseases in high frequencies. Average virus incidences ranged 5-60% and severity 1-3 on a scale of 1 to 4. There was a significant difference in virus disease incidence (10-65%) while severity ranged 1-2.5. We have tested 36.5% positive samples to potyvirus anti-sera and 27% samples carrying Cucumber Mosaic Virus, Passion Fruit Woodiness Virus or Cowpea Aphid Borne Mosaic Virus. Whiteflies, aphids, mites, leaf miners and thrips were the major pests in most farms. Only 17.6% of the farmers mulched and top dressed their crop while 88.2% never owned pit and 88.4% never buried diseased plant materials. Over 70% of the farmers got planting materials from neighbours, uncertified nurseries or own seeds. Only 17.6% of the farmers disinfected tools during pruning. Over 80% of the farmers lost their crop in less than two years and consequently abandoned passion fruit cultivation that had once contributed immensely to their income, thus destabilizing the budget of these already economically challenged households. Such a positive identification of causes of these losses is a first step toward developing affordable IPM strategies to minimize fruit crop losses in this region.
Otipa, M.J., Amata, R.L., Waiganjo, M., Mureithi, J.G., Wasilwa, L.A., Ateka, E.M., Mamati, E., Miano, D., Kinoti, J., Kyamanywa, S., Erbaugh, M. and Miller, S. (2011). CHALLENGES FACING PASSION FRUIT SMALLHOLDER FARMERS IN NORTH RIFT REGION OF KENYA. Acta Hortic. 911, 323-329
passion fruit, virus, dieback, integrated pest management