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Losses to coffee farmers after tree shed off leafs and fails to ripen

Coffee farmers in Kirinyaga County continue to count losses after the trees shed off leafs leaving the overbearing crop unable to ripen due to lack of chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll, according to Biologists is the green coloring matter of the plant which enables the tree to manufacture food using the sun.

Farmers in the area lost almost half of the entire season’s crop in June when the berries were in their development stage due to unusual cold climate.

One such farmer, Bernard Kathanga  said he lost the entire crop even after spraying using the recommended agro-chemicals.

“Though I spent so much money spraying I still lost the entire crop but I have now invited experts from the Ruiru based Coffee Foundation to come over and graft my trees with the disease resistant variety to avoid such a disaster in future, “he said.

The  County’s Director for Agriculture, Bernard Mukungo blamed the prolonged cold season from June to the beginning of October as the cause of the massive loss of leaves in the coffee crop.

“The unexpected prolonged cold spell coupled with the delayed short rains are the main factors which have made the crop to shed off theleaves leaving the unripe berries exposed to lack of chlorophyll,” he said.

The  official  who is an agricultural expert has however, advised the farmers to apply calcium, Ammonium Nitrates (CAN), fertilizer which has the ability to revitalize leaf regeneration.

Mukungo also advised farmers to spray their crop with foliar feeds once the leaves start regenerating in order for the berries to ripen.

At  Getuya village, Kirinyaga West Sub-County farmers are a disappointed lot after the crop failed to ripen due to the massive fall of the leaves.

“This is the harvesting season but as you can see my entire crop is still having green berries which have failed to ripen,” said Mwai Njogu.

Caroline Njeri from Gatunguru village says her crop cannot ripen despite having sprayed as required besides having applied the recommended farm inputs.

The same phenomenon has cut across the entire coffee growing zone in the county raising fears the approximately 30 million kilograms of cherry farmers deliver every year will not be realized.

By  Irungu  Mwangi

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