Farmers in Bungoma County have been encouraged to venture in to coffee business as a way of making a living and improving their living standards from the crop that has high demands on the international market.
Speaking during an interview at West Media Limited Studios, Mr Stephen Matumbai Wabwire, who is the Officer in charge of Namwela sub center Coffee Research Institute, said that the demand for coffee on the international market is very high and therefore a need for people to venture into planting coffee in large numbers to meet the demand and benefit from the crop.
“When you want to venture into the coffee business the best thing to do is, soil sampling in your farm and discover the type of fertilizer to use. This will be a guarantee to maximum yields,” said Mr Matumbai.
He added that the soil sampling costs six hundred shillings, where the farm takes soil from his farm and sends it to the Coffee Research Institute office in Namwela, where the soil is channeled toCoffee research institute hed office Ruiru for analysis.
According to Mr. Matumbai, the sampling helps the farmer get soil analysis and be able to know the type of fertilizers to use.
Mr Matumbai added that the preparation of planting coffee takes a period of three months.
“A farmer is supposed to dig holes ,measuring two by two feet and give them a period of three months to dry up .Then mix the soil with manure and T.S.P fertilizer before returning the soil in the hole, then he will be ready to plant his/her seedlings after a period of one month,” said Mr Matumbai.
He said the Coffee Research Institute deals with a variety of seeds that give farmers good harvest and these are; Ruiru 11, Batian among others.
The Coffee ambassador said that coffee seedlings can be found in different societies that have been formed by farmers in Bungoma County and given mandate to produce them by the research institute.
These societies are; New Chesikaki, Kimabole, Khachonge, Kibisi, Kapsokisio, Kaprong and Nmwela sub center.
Nutrition is a key concern in coffee business as the farmers have to be careful with the type of seedlings, and the farmer is not supposed to apply any type of fertilizer to the seedlings for a period of six months after transplanting them.
During this period the farmer is encouraged to shallow weed to remove weeds that can compete the coffee plants for water and nutrients and ensure the Shamba remains clean.
He advised farmers who are in the coffee business that, during the spraying of the crops to prevent them from coffee pests, to use 40 milliliters of pesticides in 20 liters of water, a mixture that can be applied to about 25 to 30 trees of coffee.
“We are also asking our people to consider using coffee in their daily life as a way of promoting local market as it is a healthy product,” posed Matumbai.
The Research Institute as also introduced grafting in coffee, an act that is used for value addition in traditional varieties of coffee.
Kenya is one of the producers of good quality coffee in the world, with Bungoma county being one of the main contributors of the counted percentage.
Farmers are urged to continue listening to “Kahawa mwezi huu” every 1st Wednesday of the month to learn more about coffee farming on West FM Radio