Coffee researchers have identified the South Rift region as the next coffee production zone in the country.Coffee Research Foundation officials said with the declining coffee plantations in central Kenya due to real estate growth, Bomet and Kericho counties are their next target for coffee growing in the country due to their high potential.
The researchers said the region's climatic conditions and the soil are conducive for the growing of all coffee varieties with a higher yield outcome than central Kenya. Dr Joseph Kimemia from CRF said they have intensified coffee seed production targeted for South Rift to expand production. He said the board will decentralise seed production to the region to enable coffee farmers easily access quality seeds. "Despite the region being a tea growing zone the board has noticed its big potential in coffee production and we have moved in to encourage coffee farmers pick up and engage in healthy coffee farming," said Kimemia. He said so far Kericho has more than 1500 hectares of land under coffee in Kipkelion area. He said that coffee growing in the region was increasing at 0.4 acres per year and is expected to increase once locals realise its viability.
Speaking at a coffee workshop in Kericho town, he said shortage of coffee seedlings and disease outbreaks in the past dealt a blow to growing of coffee forcing farmers to abandon coffee farming but the foundation has come up with the Batiani variety which is resistant to both coffee berry and coffee leaf rust diseases. He said the variety which replaced SL-34 and Ruirui coffee varieties was suitable for the region due to its ease in management and resistance to diseases. "According to a research done by Coffee Research Foundation which lasted for more than 20 years the production of Batiani is triple the other varieties and does well in the region and is now available for farmers in the entire country," said Kimemia.
Source : allafrica.com