Well we have another mixed review from the orchards in Kenya. First we have the bad news coming in from Mt. Elgon. Bishop Hezron has told me that the losses on the mountain are pretty steep. It appears that three quarters of the crop was lost due to a variety of reasons. They were hit with the lack of rain as did much of Western Kenya after the planting last October. Not only did the rain do some damage but some freezing temperatures took some out too. Mt. Elgon is a very large shield volcano 14,000 feet above sea level sitting just north of the equator. I am not sure of the exact elevation of the orchard but I assumed it was somewhere near 8,000 feet above sea level. I know when I am up there my heart is pounding something fierce trying to get oxygen through my body. Maybe having a severe iron deficiency in my blood has something to do with it. Anyway I was under the impression that the only parts of the mountain that experienced freezing temperatures we above 10,000 feet. The mountain does get snow at the highest elevations but when it does snow it is gone by mid morning. However Hezron has told me that the surviving vines are doing well. Maybe once the vines get hardy they can withstand some cold temperatures and a period of no rain. I know it is hard to believe that it gets cold in Africa especially on the equator but believe me it gets pretty chilly sometimes.
For the better we have a report and some pictures coming in from Pastor Robert in Bulimbo. We allocated 1000 seedlings for the three orchards in Bulimbo. As you know we had lost Stephan's orchard due to his and his wife's untimely death. Also planted in Bulimbo was a plot for Pauline. I am not sure exactly how the vines were finally allocated among the three orchards but Roberts was by far the largest of the three. I am under the impression that Robert had added some more vines on his own to grow his orchard to 800 vines. Robert has been growing passion fruit for many years and is quite capable of keeping his orchard healthy. According to Robert he did not lose that many seedlings due to the drought. By the looks of the five pictures he sent me it is pretty impressive. Robert tells me that he should start harvesting sometime in August. It's been about a year since the first vines were planted in Kakamega and now I can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. However it looks like these pictures were taken at night.
Pastor Robert and one of the passion fruit vines
Pastor Robert and another vine
This one is not as high up
I also see a flower on the vine
Between Mt. Elgon and Bulimbo almost a third of the vines were planted. Such a disparity between many of these orchards. Some do very well and some have not done so well. My hope is that the majority of them are doing well enough to produce an income. At some point here in the near future a decision needs to be made on what to do about going forward with this project. Again it is very difficult to troubleshoot this issue from 8,000 miles away. I am now more then anxious to get back to Kenya to see these orchards first hand. Every day we get closer to seeing some income generated that will touch those that could really use it.
Take care and God bless.