Nothing tastes as sweet as the passion fruit of one’s labour

As the demand for passion fruit around the world has not yet been fully met, this presents a golden opportunity for anyone with a little space and a great passion for growing things to become a passion fruit farmer. 

Besides, as it’s a high value crop, it has the potential to become a highly lucrative business too. By high value, we mean that it can be sold for significantly more per kilo than most other common fruits. 

A key reason for this is that passion fruit is regarded as a superfruit because it is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that are ‘super’ for maintaining our health and preventing disease. Plus, it has a unique sweet-but-tart taste, which makes it an all-round favourite ingredient in juices, sweets and deserts.

According to Siviwe Njozela, emerging female veggie and fruit farmer and co-founder of Somandla Farms in Muldersdrift, you actually need very little to start producing passion fruit, as it grows from a vine (a climbing plant). Once it is planted in soil, the plant can be attached to any structure that will enable it to grow upwards, instead of along the ground.

Siviwe says that formal training isn’t really necessary because passion fruit is relatively easy to grow. She notes that, in this modern era, there is a world of knowledge right at your fingertips. “I know this may sound strange to some, but I learnt most of what I know by simply watching YouTube videos,” she explains.

Many people refer to a passion fruit and granadilla as the same thing, but even though they are very closely related, there is actually a difference. Passion fruit are generally smaller than granadillas, and they have either bright yellow or deep purple skin, while the granadilla has a yellow-orange skin and the pulp looks slightly different.

Currently, South Africa is one of the top three suppliers of the purple-skinned variety of passion fruit to the European market. Top importing countries of South African granadillas are Germany, Switzerland and France that generally buy the bigger fruit, while the UK market predominantly prefers the smaller variety.

The majority of passion fruit in our country is grown along the South and East Coast as well as Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Siviwe has, however, discovered that it grows very well in the Johannesburg area, bearing fruit from about six months, while it can take much longer in other areas.

Around 60% of our country’s granadillas are sold fresh, in 2kg cartons, and between 85-90% of this quota is exported. The remaining ±40% is sold to agro-processing businesses who sell the pulp of the fruit in tins, or use it in the manufacture of juice concentrates, jams, flavouring for sweets, and so on. 

Based on personal experience, Siviwe’s top tip to succeed in the passion fruit farming business is to never lose the passion for learning. “As the environment and the industry keep on changing, you need to keep on learning; learn from other farmers and learn from your clients,” she says. 

“You can especially learn from your clients, as they can tell you what is in demand and how much of it you should grow, which can, in turn, inform your growing plans,” she concludes. 

Well, clearly whoever said that stolen fruit is the sweetest has never experienced the joy of growing their own fruit, right? To learn more about how Siviwe and her brother grow their produce, go to or follow @NicheFarmers on Facebook to learn from other niche farmers.