YAP Proposal #414: Linking passion fruit farmers to collection centres (Stephen Kibet, Kenya)

StephenKibet

Subsistence farming is the main source of livelihood for many households in developing countries. I was brought up in the North Rift region of Kenya, where maize and wheat farming continues to be our main source of food and income.

However, increases in cost of production, coupled with price volatility, have made our lives miserable. What was once a profitable crop has turned into a loss making venture.

With current access to alternatives such as passion fruit, I think it is about time that farmers diversified the crops they cultivate. This, in my opinion, provides a kind of ‘insurance’ to these subsistence farmers in the sense that they will have an extra (weekly) source of income that reduces their dependence on the usual crops like maize and wheat.

Why passion fruit farming?

Farmers who plant passion fruit farming get a net average income of $400 per week from ½ acre of land. This is much better as compared to maize or wheat farming. Furthermore, passion fruit provides weekly source of income that reduces dependence on staple crops.

Apart from this, it is environmentally friendly considering no tillage is required and it does better with manure input than with inorganic fertilizer.

The Passion fruit coup in North Rift, a blog post by Smart Farmer Magazine, and the Passion fruit farming in Eldoret, a story highlighted by Kenya Television Network (KTN), are good examples that provide first hand insights on the advantages of passion fruit farming in Kenya.

Passion fruit farming challenges

Farmers need to take their passion fruit produce to the nearest collection centres to prevent damage and to ensure freshness. This is more so in light of the fact that passion fruit must reach the collection centre within a day of harvest, after which they begin to lose their value.

However, information on which is the nearest and active passion fruit collection centre is a challenge to both the sellers (farmers) and buyers. Data on the status and proximity of collection centres will be imperative to ensure maximum profit and minimum loss to farmers.

Our proposal to provide a solution to these challenges

My team and I have a diverse range of experiences with mapping and using remote sensing tools to collect and derive information for managing natural resources. This is a team of experts from four countries in Africa and the Asia Pacific. More information about our organization is available here.

Our approach will be to map locations of all passion fruit collection points based on visual identification on Google Earth imagery. Since most of these centres are prominent commercial centres within the villages, they can be visually identified and mapped.

However, as a way of validating, we will compare with sample locations with known GPS coordinates. Using freely available imagery from Google Earth is intended to make our intervention cost effective as it will reduce labour and avoid expensive alternatives such as collating data through stakeholder workshops.

The next step is to set up information systems that we henceforth call Mapping Passion (M-passion). M-Passion will provide sellers and buyers with the ability to query and provide information on quantity of passion fruit available in a collection centre and prevailing market prices.

Implementing Team

Stephen Kibet (Leader) – Kenya

Steve has over three years of dedicated application of GIS and Remote Sensing in food security and soil conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa. He works as a consultant focused on data analysis and project mapping. He loves challenges and you will often find him fixing spatial data issues. No wonder every spatial problem to him is not a problem, but rather a challenge!

Aristotle Boaitey – Ghana

Aristotle is a computer-savvy natural resource management expert with four years working experience in training, IT, project design and execution.

He has provided specialized, technical support to small and medium forest-based industries and stakeholders on trade regulations, certification (FSC, SAN, and RSPO) and sustainable natural resource management. He has working proficiency in French as a second language.

Agnes Sumareke – Papua New Guinea

Agnes is a forester by profession with over 10 years’ experience in the Forest Research Institute of Papua New Guinea Forest Authority. She specialises in silviculture, mainly rehabilitation of logged-over and degraded natural forest with focus on climate change. She has also worked in donor-funded forestry projects such as developing the PNG Forest Base Map (JICA) and promoting fuelwood production (ACIAR).

Edson Mwijage – Tanzania

Edson has over two years work experience in remote sensing and Geodatabase for Environment and Geological projects. As GIS and database manager at Jacana Resource Mineral exploration, he established and maintained a fully functional geodatabase.

He also has working knowledge in environmental rehabilitation as well as in precious minerals such as uranium, graphite and heavy minerals.

 

Blogpost and picture submitted by Stephen Kibet (Kenya) – s.kibet[at]geonarem.org
Illustration courtesy: northriftnews.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #414 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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50 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #414: Linking passion fruit farmers to collection centres (Stephen Kibet, Kenya)

  1. Yap this is a nice Applications to the technology for sure farmers will be educated and make informed decusions on their farming

  2. This is a good initiative. I am confident that this idea will spread to other commercial crops in Kenya. I support Kibet and team

  3. This is a very noble idea especially in supporting livelihoods in many households in Kenya.I support this endeavor too.

    1. Thanks Naomi, I very much agree with you that the initiative will support livelihood in Kenya and we are optimistic it can be replicated to other countries too

  4. This is a good move given that maize and wheat have had so many challenges ranging from diseases to high cost of production. It will touch lives to many people within Kenya and beyond. If you happen to be in need of assistance in that field of passion fruit, I can hook you up with people of like mind who have worked in that field and I am sure it will propel ur achievement if not one, then several knotches high. All the best my brother and be blessed.

  5. This is a good move given that maize and wheat have had so many challenges ranging from diseases to high cost of production. It will touch lives of many people within Kenya and beyond. If you happen to be in need of assistance in that field of passion fruit, I can hook you up with people of like mind who have worked in that field and I am sure it will propel ur achievement if not one, then several knotches high. All the best my brother and be blessed.

    1. My friend Haron, I very much appreciate your thoughts and willingness to come on board and make difference in making this initiative a reality. Many thanks and will keep in touch

    1. Good question, as noted, the collection centers are known and the main approach first is to use to collect sample GPS points which will be used to validate the points.

  6. Very innovative. I am a tech guy and I believe in using advance IT for addressing real issues. Keep it up.

  7. Farmers in Kenya need such information in a way that the can easily access. How will you ensure that?

    1. Kwesi, thanks for the question, since most farmers do not have access to the internet, our approach is to first map and use SMS based system upon which the farmers will send the text with set guideline such as where he is based, and the question. Once received, it will be geocoded automatically and using spatial queries, appropriate answer derives which will be sent back to the farmer. Considering USD 5000 will not be sufficient to set all the system at once, we first endeavour to develop a web system which we will test with farmers with access to the internet via their phones as we roll out SMS-based system

  8. Brilliant idea, there is a big shift in the north rift region; from traditional maize and wheat farming to more horticultural crops and passion fruit farming is taking toll.I hope this idea will soon be implemented, it will do great good to the farmers.

  9. its totally true. in our village we have seen farmers change their lifestyle from poverty to richesi think passion is a green gold mine. farmers need support on disease control and research on someviral disease that affect passion

    1. Thanks Luka, once we start by mapping the distribution points, it is possible to have farmers report on location where the woodiness virus has been spotted and this will help in timely control

  10. This is the best initiative for farmers.. I join by congratulating this team for the innovative idea. Involve me and I assist in mapping of the diseases for early detection.

  11. This is big Kibet. As you map these routes please also indicate the time it takes to move from the point of production to storage facilities. What forms of transport are being used? Map the gender issues and map income. Oh, this is big and interesting. There are so many issues that this will address. You have my support all the way.

    1. Thanks, Mweene, yes, with spatial analysis, this is very much possible. we are starting small and we are hopeful we will include the travel time since this is also one of the challenge noted

  12. A very noble idea. Horticultural farming integrated into e – mapping e.g M – passion mapping in this case is the best. Congrats steve and the team

    1. Thanks my long time friend Elijah, as noted, we really need such solution at such time and that is why our team is ready to spend hours in making this dream a success

  13. might i suggest that your data be published to OpenStreetMap so these locations can be available to others as well? great project!

    1. Thanks, Todd, you are such a great mentor and indeed, we will publish this data on OpenStreetMap as we believe in having an impact not only in Kenya but also inspiring such similar initiatives in other countries.

  14. This is a great initiative, hope the mapping will also implemented in other East African countries. Warm congratulations to the whole team ……

  15. That is an a wonderful initiative, hope the mapping will even reach other East African country. Congratulations to the whole team.

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