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Passion fruit shortage sparks price rise across major towns in Kenya

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A Nyamira County farmer tends to his passion fruits. Passion fruit prices have sharply risen against low supply. Photo by Laban Robert.

The shortage of passion fruits for domestic and commercial consumption has sparked a rise in price as the entities strive to meet their fruit needs.

The disparity in supply is evident from the margin of the cost of passion fruits in the various towns in Kenya. From a sample of seven towns, the wholesale cost difference between the highest and the lowest if triple.

While a bag of 57kg of passion fruit is costing Sh5,104 in Nairobi, the same quantity is being sold at Sh3,000 in Kisumu – the cheapest, according to SOKO+, a digital commodity trading and information system.

Comparing the two towns, the disparity on the cost per kilo is about Sh36 – Sh50 in Nairobi and 53 in Kisumu.

Malindi is buying the same quantity at Sh4,500 while Mombasa is paying Sh5,000 on wholesale,  Nakuru is the second highest market after Nairobi buying the 57kg passion fruits at Sh5,100.

Simon Kirima, owner and operations manager at Kery’s Kool Fresh Produce, a company which growers and export fresh exotic fruits and vegetables says this could have been caused by traders from Uganda who buy the fruits from farmers.

“Most farmers for instance in Eldoret where there rise in adoption of passion farming, are opting to sell their produce to traders from the neighbouring country on offer of a slightly higher price,” said Kirima.

This he may be risky, as the traders may buy on a one-off time leading farmers to a lack of market in the subsequent rounds of harvest.

“The farmers deny local traders who are more consistent in market and can buy their produce all time and sell the fruits to outsiders who are unpredictable and this may affect them in future.”

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The trend of the low supply of passion fruit has been perennial with soft drinks companies like Coca Cola looking for the fruits from farmers with futility.

The shortage is not only for the fruits, but other vegetables too.

Passion fruit demand has many a time, been high as soft drink companies strive to meet this raw material. They are forced to import the fruits, with some of them bringing in concentrates because the fresh produce is also limited internationally.

Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation’s Horticulture Research Institute officer Peter Mburu said increased demand makes passion fruit a better agribusiness venture than maize, which on many occasions, does not repay the invested production costs.

On ordinary supply, a kilo of the passion fruits sells at about Sh80.

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