The coffee farm dates back to the colonial era when the white settlers established the crop that was then refered to as ‘black gold’ for export purposes. The first tree was planted at the farm in 1919.
The farm has over the years changed owership and names. In 1950’s, Nyeri Plantations was established which came as a result of merging two farms; ‘Faruvale’ and ‘Gunyumu’. Faruvale comprised an area of 157.4 Acres and was to the Eastern part of the farm while Gunyumu had an area of 76.6 Acres and was to the Western making a total area of 234 acres.
The plantation, was purchased by the then Kimathi Institute of Technology (KIT) in the 1970’s and the name Nyeri Plantations was retained. The name remained until 2009 when it was changed to Kimathi University College of Technology Farm Limited with further modification to the name by adopting Dedan Kimathi University Farm in 2012 when the University attained a charter.
The total acreage of the farm is 648 acres with 302 acres under coffee with a tree population of 103,652 (June 2011). The dominant variety is SL 28 with a few Batian and Ruiru coffe trees. The coffee production has over the years been fluctuating due to various factors for example adverse weather conditions and poor management practices. The highest production was recorded in 2006/07 with a production of 135.8 tonnes clean coffee equivalent to 53,227 debes of cherry. This tonnage was equivalent to 950,600 kgs of cherry coffee.
The farm, in collaboration with Coffee Research Foundation (CRF) started a coffee nursery last year (2012) with the objective of producing high quality coffee seedlings to be used for gradual replacement of the old coffee trees. The nursery has 9 propagators that are used for the germination of the seeds before they are transplanted into plastic bags. The nursery has a capacity of 70,000 seedlings with the current seedlings totaling to 46,493 (main varieties are Ruiru hybrid and Batian).
The economical lifespan of a coffee tree is 25-35 years. Most of the coffee bushes in the farm are over 50 years old. As a result, they have exhausted their maximum production potential. In addition, majority of the trees have died due to senescence and diseases such as Armillaria meuea. This has led to poor production per tree and therefore the need for entire rehabilitation by planting new improved varieties.
The farm has embarked on a rehabilitation programme with the first phase christened project 1.0. This project will involve the entire replacement of the old trees with new ones. The project targets block Kigunyo located next to the new administration block. The total area earmarked for this rehabilitation is 34,314m2 with an estimated seedlings population to be transplanted of 8,587 at a spacing of 2mx2m. The seedlings are the high quality Batian variety released in the year 2010 by Coffee Research Foundation. The project targets the April/May rainy season. This is a pilot project which if successful will lead to the rehabilitation of the entire farm by the end of 2015.
Disease and pest control
The common diseases are Coffee Berry Diseases (CBD), Coffee Leaf Rust and the root disease. Majority of the coffee diseases are fungal and are therefore controlled by use of fungicides. The common pests are the green scales, Kenya mealy bugs, berry borer, stem borer and leaf miners. These are controlled chemicaly by use of insecticide and also by good husbadry practices e.g proper prunning. In addition, the farm aggressively encourages the use of predators in suppressing the pests as a form of biological control.
Destruction by stem borer Effect of green scales on coffee leaves Coffee-leaf-rust
Coffee Berry Disease Brown Eye Spot Disease
Reputable milling and marketing firms are contracted for their services in accordance with the procurement procedures. On average the milling charges are 50 USD- 60 USD per tonne of parchment while the marketing charges on average are 40 USD- 50USD.
The above article was prepared by Mr. John Gathirwa, Ag. Farm Manager
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