Monday, 31 October 2011

Why not Coffee yet I am in a Coffee region?

At the onset of the rains (short) from October, planting of early maturing food crops was done. There include peas, beans, kales and capsicum. This is done to make maximum use of the rain and to ensure they are harvested before the warm dry season of January.

 These crops mature within 3 months.

 Also during the festival holidays of December, there is a demand thus its vital to have them early by then. During this time, its also when the small scale coffee farmers are harvesting.
A coffee farm

Coffee grows on medium highlands, it requires fertile slightly acidic soils, well drained and well spreading rainfall. It takes 4 years of coffee trees to mature and start bearing fruit. Once a year, pruning is done to reduce the number of suckers and to remove the old branches. Application of manure is done twice a year though same farmers prefer to use fertilizers.

Spraying of fungicides is done during the cold season (May – Aug) to protect the crop from blight. Also insecticides are sprayed during flowering to protect the berries from thrips and aphids.
 Coffee being a cash crop only benefits the farmers after a long process of marketing by the Kenya Planters co-op union (KPCU). Since majority of the farmers are not educated, then there is a high level of exploitation.

 The world marked prices for Kenyan Coffee are very high and one would be tempted to think  that those who grow it live comfortably but this is not so. Once the farmers deliver the produce to the co-operative societies, then they have to wait to be paid 4 months later at a price that is a far cry from the actual.

That is why despite having my farm in that would be most ideal for Coffee, I chose not to venture into this as I do not want to be 'enslaved' with no control over how much my final produce should go for.
Some of my farm's  food produce

It is sad that despite most farmers in my region realizing the level of exploitation they are subjected to, they seem to have accepted their fate reducing their lives to a 'hand to mouth' type of living.

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