Diversification in the Wanjuki Estates
March 24, 2024

Diversification in the Wanjuki Estates

Wanjuki Estates is a collective of 11 Kenyan farms in Kirinyaga, Mt Kenya region. Mark and Jean met the farmers and toured some of their farms during their recent visit to Kenya, in a trip organised by Sucafina.

These farms are spread over a large areas and are located an average of 1,550m above sea level, which is a relatively low altitude for Kenya but within a region that's huge for coffee growing.

Mark says: "We were really grateful to them for letting us go. It was good to see farmers in a different light because sometimes they're small farms in Kenya or humungous massive estates or plantations, whereas these farmers have banded together to have a bit more selling power."

Among these 11 farms, the largest has around 7,500 coffee trees and the smallest has about 3,000. But they've also diversified to help them cope with the impact of global warming.

Mark takes a close look at coffee plants on a Wanjuki Estates farm

Mark explains: "Each farm will produce two coffee crops a year - fly crop and main crop. The main crop grows from August to November time and during our visit they should have been trimming back the trees and getting ready for the new crop to come in April/May time. The trouble is, a lot of the trees were ready to produce fruit.

"Through global warming they have had a lot more trees change in the weather. They should be going from no bloom to massive, massive bloom. But if they start to bloom to early and then get too hot, as can happen so early, there's a risk the trees could abort their fruit and they could be left with with no main crop, which would be a huge financial loss.

"The problem is now do they cut back and risk losing some crop or do they hope that the crop comes through. This is the issue now with the global warming.

Bananas growing on a tree on a Kenyan farm

"So a lot of them in the area have diversified so they're not relying just on the coffee. So a lot of them have multiple different crops. One of them had tamarillo, or tree tomatoes. Some had bananas. Another one grows a lot of maize, which can be dried and kept for months at a time. Another grew avocadoes. A few had macadamia trees as well as mangoes. And others had cattle and birds, and one of the guys grows his own fish."

This diversification helps to ensure the farmers can earn in living in the changing climate. It also helps to keep their farms sustainable and, in turn, support them to grow the specialty coffee Mark loves to roast and our customers love to drink.

See more photos from the visit in this video: