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Thunguri Coffee Factory is located in Kirinyaga County just at the border with Nyeri County, close to Karatina town. It was established in 1962 and rests on an 8 acres piece of land serving Kiamwe, Nguguini and Kiahiti Villages. Currently it is affiliated to Kibirigwi Farmers Co-operative Society Ltd. Its membership currently stands at 1115 which 1095 are active farmers while 20 are inactive farmers. The area experiences a biannual production cycle with the early harvest being from April-June and the late second season being from October-December. The main varieties of coffee grown are SL28, 34, K7 and Ruiru 11, with SL28, 34, K7 accounting to 99% of all coffee produced while Ruiru 11 accounts to 1 % of all production.
The factory is receiving assistance from our partner Coffee Management Services (CMS). The long term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, input access, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and a sustainable farming handbook updated and distributed annually. Our wish is to establish a transparent, trust based relationship with the smallholder farmer, helping to support a sustained industry growth in Kenya, whilst bringing premium quality to our customers, and premium prices to the farmers. Through the pre-financing they receive, farmers are given advances for school fees and farm inputs. The factory manager is re-trained every year by CMS, in addition to field days being held by the minister of agriculture and agrochemical companies that deliver inputs to the farmers. Demonstration plots are planted at the factory to reinforce the best practices taught throughout the year. After picking, ripe cherry is brought to the factory before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp – known as the wet processing method. Wastewater is discarded in soaking pits, and is also recirculated for conservation. The factory is using a disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, before it is cleaned, soaked and spread.