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.
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.
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