Gicherori is from Embu, a place that offers really good coffee, from the Kibugu Cooperative which is home to five factories.
Each lot consists of coffees from hundreds of smallholders from the area surrounding the washing station (factory). The team at the factory sorts the cherries before they go into production. The coffees are traditionally processed with dry fermentation, before being washed and graded in channels, and dried on raised beds. The farmers mainly grow SL28 and SL34, but as with almost all Kenyan cooperative coffees, there can be a mix of everything. Other common cultivars are K7, Ruiru 11 and now also Batian.
Gicherori Factory is part of the Kibugu Farmer’s Cooperative Society. It was started in 1994. Current membership stands at 1,200. The area surrounding the Gicherori Factory is densely populated and has farmers who have between 100 and 1000 coffee trees.
Gicherori factory is situated at Kibugu location, Gicherori sub-location in Embu County. The factory treats all water in soak pits to ensure no contamination runs into the local waterways, which are a source of drinking water. The community also places great importance on protecting the indigenous trees that remain in the area, so that the local birdlife can be sustained.
SOLIDS AND CLIMATE
The Gicherori Factory sits on the slopes of Mount Kenya in the Manyatta division of Embu County. Rich volcanic soil, annual rainfall of almost 2,000mm, and the abundance of SL 28 and SL 34 varieties all lend immense quality to the production of coffee in this specific area. In this county, smallholders deliver coffee in cherry to washing stations
After picking, the members deliver the fresh coffee berries to the mill, where they are depulped (the fruit skin and pulp is removed mechanically), then fermented in large tanks and washed with stored clean water. The wastewater is cleaned before being led back into nature, which is common at most mills. After washing, the coffee is dried on typical African raised beds that allow good air circulation between the beans. Beans are dried to between 11 and 13 % and then brought to the Central Kenya Coffee Mill in Nyeri for grading and sorting.
The affiliate members of the factory carry out all agronomic activities associated with coffee production i.e. they source coffee from the Coffee Research Station and plant it according to the stipulated guidelines. They also manage weeding, pruning, spraying, and application of fertilizer, mulching, and technical advice which is offered through farmer training programs and field visits/days through the ministry of agriculture. Compliance with the agreed guidelines is checked and supervised by the field committee which goes around the farms. They usually check that coffee is not inter-grown with other crops such as maize and Beans, though they do allow intercropping with Macadamia. They also encourage farmers who have abandoned their coffee bushes to come more so due to high prices.
In line with the rising awareness of the need to conserve the environment, the factory has dug the wastewater soak pits away from the water source where the wastewater is allowed to soak back into the soil. However, the factory does not engage in wastewater treatment at the moment. Additionally, society encourages its members to plant trees on their farms.
Gicherori factory has long-term goals to increase coffee production, training seminars, and access to education and sustainable processes for the farmers they work with. They also maintain a demonstration plot that farmers can visit and reference in relation to their own plots.