Farmers selling passion fruits at throw-away prices can earn more than what the common market is offering by delivering their produce to a Kiambu County suppliers who is looking for up to 1,000 kg per week.
For far-flung farmers, the Peris Kiarii makes plans of ferrying the produce after agreeing with the supplier to Limuru.
Whilst ordinary urban market is offering about Sh50 per kilo, Kiarii is buying the produce at between Sh60 and Sh80, depending on the quality.
“The market I have is for purple passion fruits-for making fresh juice. Besides being sweet and dent free, the fruit must be relatively big,” she says.
Supply of the fruit to juice processing companies like Coca Cola remains low even as farmers continue to incur losses resulting from the shrinking value of the fruits in the direct markets like Nairobi Market and Gikomba. The farmers do not have direct linkage to big consumers.
In mitigating the effects of the supply shortage, other companies have opted to contracting farmers, therefore, locking out those who are not in such pacts.
Others are ordering concentrates from countries like South Africa.
Hotels and restaurants in urban centres like Nairobi offer better prices of up to Sh100 per kilo, but the channel of delivering the produce is blocked by cartels who want to make a killing out of the artificial shortage.
That makes the agribusiness unattractive because of low returns and rotting away of the fruits.
Passion fruits ripen at intervals of days to weeks. Flowering and production maturing is gradual, making it possible to supply the fruit for longer than four months after the first harvest.
Diseases like fusarium and die back drastically cut earning for farmers, with some opting to grow the yellow variety, which is least affected.
But the yellow type is unpopular because it is bitter than purple.