By Joseph Muchiri
Farmers forming Kithungururu Farmers Cooperative Society in Embu North got a reprieve after a new, high-tech, eco-friendly coffee factory was built in the area.
Gituri Coffee Factory, which was launched in a colourful ceremony on Sunday, has a mill with a capacity to process 1,500 kilogrammes of coffee cherries per hour, an average of 10,000 kilogrammes a day.
The milling machine was acquired at Sh2 million while the accompanying infrastructure like buildings, tanks and drying tables cost Sh10 million.
The mill, the second of its type in the country, is famed for having all the cherry that comes out as clean parchment, which goes direct to drying tables. This eliminates the water and time consuming process where cherry from the mill has to be soaked in tanks before they are taken to the drying tables.
The factory’s chairman, Joseph Mwaniki, said the new factory would shorten the process of drying cherry by two weeks.
“The mill is eco-friendly and one gallon of water would be adequate to process one kilogramme of coffee, which is so little compared to other types of mills,” said Mwaniki.
Mr Mwaniki said because of the little amount of water required, they could even use rainwater eliminating the need for water pumps and generators.
“It is advantageous that coffee picking coincides with rainy seasons but when there is little rain, we would pump only a little water from the river,” said Mwaniki.
He added they could now avoid using tap water that has high levels of chlorine, which affects the quality of coffee. The chairman appealed to other coffee societies to consider adopting the new technology and machines, which would reduce costs of processing coffee thus generating more returns for the farmers.
Embu North DC Joseph Bullut noted the farmers have confidence that the coffee sector has improved hence pooled resources together to buy the land, the machines and build accompanying infrastructure.
“The new factory will also help reduce petty crimes as jobless youth would get employment there,” said Bullut. Noting that the district has not had cases of coffee theft, Bullut blamed the vice on electing the wrong leaders who either collude with robbers or do not care to put in place strong measures to curb theft.