KENYA kiunyu AB
Cooperative: Karithathi FCS
Washing Station: Kiunyu
Farmers: 1600 active members (608 female, 992 male)
Cultivar: SL28 - SL34 - Ruiru 11 (Grafted with SL 28)
Altitude: 1640 masl
Process: Fully washed with double fermentation
Harvest: November 2021 - January 2022
Cherry Price | FOB Price: 5.38 USD/kg | 8.67 USD/Kg
Screen | Moisture | Density: 15-16 | 10.7% | 0.721 g/ml
Packaging: 30 Kg with GrainPro
Notes: Anise, apricot, almond, chocolate
The first time we cupped Kiunyu in 2017, we were so impressed with the quality of the lot that a couple of days later we went to visit the cooperative located in a very remote area on the slopes of Mount Kenya, right on the border of Kirinyaga and Embu counties. Later that year we bought the lot, and since then Kiunyu has become one of the most recognized names when we talk about Kenyan specialty coffees.
The Kiunyu factory is a member of the Karithathi Farmers' Cooperative Society. It was established in the 1960s and works with the Kagumoini, Kianduma, Kiambuuku, Kiambatha, Gatura and Kiamuki villages. It has approximately 1,600 members (small coffee farmers), who cultivate a total of 175 hectares of land and produce 218,669 kg of green coffee annually.
The area experiences moderate bimodal rainfall and temperatures ranging between 13 and 24 °C throughout the year. The main coffee varieties grown here are SL34, SL28 and Ruiru 11. The SL34 variety represents 60% of all coffee production in the area. Most farmers in the area are tea growers and, to a lesser extent, coffee growers.
After harvesting, the coffee cherry is deposited at the factory, where it undergoes a thorough washing method. Water is pumped from the Karithathi River to storage tanks for pulp separation and recirculation. After pulping, the coffee is dry fermented overnight before being washed, then steeped for 12-18 hours and finally sent to raised African beds for drying and grading.
IS 1 USD PER 1 KG OF CHERRY POSSIBLE?
Things are changing for the better in Kenya, the average price of coffee cherries has increased from USD 0.45 per kg of cherry in 2016/2017 to USD 0.80 per kg of cherry in the year 2020/2021, a 78% grow! But what has happened in the year 2021/2022?
According to information from the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCI), coffee production increased by 64% in the 2021/2022 harvest, compared to the previous year, and income increased by 90% in the same period. This is the result of a lower supply to the global market, because in Brazil, the harsh weather conditions caused up to 20% of the entire harvest to be lost in the last season. And in Ethiopia, the world's fifth largest producer, agricultural activities have been interrupted by the conflict between the government and the militia in the Tigray region.
Various Cooperatives of Coffee Producers in Kenya have announced the highest payment rates in history, which in some cases of cooperatives in Nyeri reach USD 1.10 per kg of cherry. This has generated excitement in many coffee growers, increasing the average production per coffee tree from 0.9 kg to 3 kg, which is still low, if we compare it with Latin American origins.
In the case of the cooperatives with which we are working this season, we have found that the best payment reaches USD 1.06 per kg of cherry in Kagumoini factory and the worst USD 0.82 per kg of cherry for the New Murarandia factory.
Our goal of reaching 1 USD per 1 Kg of cherries is getting closer, and we hope that it will be a widespread achievement for the entire Kenyan industry and serve as an example for other origins in Africa and the world, where payments per Kg of cherries they are much lower than in Kenya. A particularly worrying case is that of Burundi, where only USD 0.16 is paid for 1 kg of cherries.
WHY FARMERS ARE GRAFTING RUIRU 11 WITH SL 28?
Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby plant tissues are joined together to continue growing together. The upper part of the combined plant is called the stem, while the lower part is called the rootstock.
The Ruiru 11 variety was released in 1985. The name of the variety has the prefix "Ruiru" which refers to the location of the Kenya Coffee Research Station where the variety was developed. The variety is not only resistant to CBD and CLR, but is also compact, allowing farmers to intensify production per unit of land.
The cultivar SL 28 was selected at the former Scott Laboratories (now the National Agricultural Laboratories, NARL located in Kabete) on the basis of a single tree, of the drought resistant variety Tanganyika selected in northern Tanzania in 1931. The prefix SL in the strain name stands for Scott Laboratories where the strain was selected. The variety is suitable for medium to high altitude coffee growing areas.
In an attempt to change "low organoleptic reputation" of Ruiru 11, farmers are grafting it with SL28. For the lower part, they use the root of SL 28 which is much longer than that of Ruiru, and it can absorve more nutrients from the fertile Kenyan volcanic soils. For the top part, they use Ruiru 11, which is more resistant to coffee diseases than SL. They do this to gain the best of both worlds, the cup quality of the SL, with the strength and productivity of the Ruiru 11.