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Kenya develops drought-tolerant passion fruits

Kenya has developed three new drought-resistant varieties of passion fruit, it was revealed this week

Developed by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the new varieties KPF 4, KPF 11 and KPF 12 are the results of a 20-year research project aimed at increasing passion fruit production in the country.

“The new varieties are drought tolerant and are suited both for processing and the fresh market. They are superior in quality,” observed Joseph Njuguna, a fruit expert at KALRO’s Thika station.

The research organization is also working closely with community nurseries in warm areas to multiply the new varieties and transfer the technology to farmers.

More than 30,000 seedlings are available for distribution across the country, and KALRO estimates that the new varieties can increase farmers’ yields to up to three tonnes per hectare of land.

Researchers have also developed passion fruit varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases, as well as being high-yielding and better suited for the coastal region.

The passion fruit research programme is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and soft drinks manufacturer Coca Cola has offered to purchase fruits directly from farmers for juice processing.