‘Granadillas can be farmers’ cash cow’

Ashton Mutyavaviri

RISING global demand for superfoods, spurred by consumers seeking immune boosters in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic has well-positioned farmers to produce passion and granadilla fruits for both local and international markets.

The demand is fuelled by the fruits’ diverse applications, including use in fruit beverages, smoothies and other food manufacturing processes.

Small-scale farmers prefer to produce and export these fruits due to their high returns and the availability of markets, which has seen demand spiking over the past few years.

The fruits can be grown for fresh consumption or juice extraction and are recognised as highly nutritious tropical superfoods due to their rich antioxidant content and other health benefits, which makes them particularly attractive in a market increasingly driven by health-conscious consumers.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development chief crop production specialist Mrs Hilda Manditsvara said passion fruit might be intercropped with vegetables such as beans, cabbage and tomatoes during the first year.

“Cucurbits (cucumbers, pumpkin, and squashes) are not recommended due to the woodiness virus and fruit flies. In addition, maize, cowpea, sorghum, okra, sweet potatoes and other creepers should be avoided,” she added.

She observed that granadillas prefer moderate temperatures throughout the year and also favour a high relative humidity, well-distributed rainfall of not less than 1 200 millimetres per year (irrigation can supplement low rainfall).

“In hot areas, they should be planted on cool slopes and in cool areas on the warm northern slopes. The average maximum monthly temperature should not exceed 29 degrees Celsius and the minimum should not fall below five,” she explained.

By embracing the cultivation of passion fruit and granadilla, Zimbabwe’s smallholder farmers and young agricultural entrepreneurs can not only enhance their own economic well-being but also contribute significantly to the nation’s export growth, ensuring a prosperous future for the country’s agricultural sector.

According to Data Bridge Market Research, the granadilla or passion fruit market poised for significant growth, with projections indicating a compound annual growth rate of 4, 67 percent from 2021 to 2028.

The robust expansion was largely attributed to the rising awareness of the benefits associated with a healthy eating lifestyle.

Demand for nutrient-rich and natural food products continues to escalate, positioning passion fruit and granadilla as favourites for most of the health-conscious consumers.

A major driver of this market growth is the surging demand for natural ingredients across various industries.

Consumers are increasingly opting for foods and beverages that are free from synthetic additives and preservatives.

The trend has significantly boosted the popularity of passion fruit, known for its natural flavour and health benefits, thereby propelling market expansion during the forecast period.

Meanwhile, the national trade development organisation (Zimtrade) has highlighted that the current potential markets for Zimbabwean-grown passion fruits are European and African countries as well as other emerging markets for Zimbabwean produce such as China, Japan and United Arab Emirates.

In Europe, Zimbabwean farmers have a shot at Netherlands, United Kingdom, France and Germany, said Zimtrade.

“The country is already exporting huge quantities of horticultural products such as mange tout and sugar snap peas, fine beans and flowers to these markets, which makes it easy for local producers to even export passion fruit if they ride on existing channels,” added Zimtrade.

Regional markets such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and Angola are also potential markets for locally-produced passion fruit or its value-added products.

 

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