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Boon for farmers as Batian coffee unveiled

CARTOON
By | September 9th 2010

BY MACHARIA KAMAU

Production of coffee in the country is set to rise significantly in the coming years following the launch of a new variety of the crop with yields twice more than current varieties.

The new variety, dubbed ‘Batian Coffee’, is also expected to bring down the cost of production by over 30 per cent, as it is resistant to diseases that commonly afflict the crop in the country.

Batian Coffee, which was launched on Wednesday in Ruiru, has been developed by the Government-funded Coffee Research Foundation.

"Farmers are currently getting about two metric tonnes of coffee per hectare, and sometimes this can go down to half a tonne. The new high yielding variety can give over five tonnes per hectare by the fourth year, when production is at peak." said Kimemia director of research at Coffee Research Foundation.

most common diseases

It is also resistant to coffee berry disease and leaf rust, the two most common diseases affecting the crop in Kenya.

"Two diseases are a serious concern among farmers as prevention of these can account for as much as 30 per cent of the production costs. With Batian, these costs are eliminated."

He added that Batian also takes a shorter time to mature, and farmers can start harvesting the crop by end of second year. It usually takes up to three years with traditional coffee varieties after planting before the first harvest.

after 25 years

The new variety comes 25 years after the research foundation launched Ruiru 11 in 1985. Kimemia attributed the long duration to technology, but said the research foundation expects to significantly reduce the period in future, thanks to modern technologies

"We now have a modern molecular biology lab that should see the period we use to get a new breed come down to eight years," he said.

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