When President Jomo Kenyatta officiated the factory’s grand opening in 1964, he named the factory “Mwiria” (a Kikuyu word meaning “huge”) to commemorate a very old and large indigenous tree that used to grow on the factory grounds. This tree has additional significance as a symbol in the fight for independence from colonial powers.
Mwiria is one of 3 factories operated by Central Ngandori Farmer Cooperative Society (FCS). Today, over 1,000 farmers deliver cherry to the station, which produces over 69,000 kilograms of coffee each year.
Situated at the base of Mt. Kenya, smallholders delivering to Mwiria Factory cultivate SL28 and SL34 in volcanic nutrient-rich soil that benefit from an ideal altitude and microclimate. Trees are fed from the plentiful Rupingazi River, whose hard black volcanic rock helps filter the cool, clean water flowing from Mt Kenya’s peak.
Most smallholders intercrop coffee with other subsistence and cash crops including carrots, bananas and other fruit trees. Three permanent employees operate Mwiria Factory and hire an additional 30 people during the peak of the season. Smallholders selectively handpick only ripe cherry and deliver it to Mwiria Factory. At intake, the Cherry Clerk oversees meticulous visual sorting and floating, accepting only dense, ripe cherry.
After intake, cherry is pulped and wet fermented in Mwiria’s fermentation tanks for 12 to 28 hours. Following fermentation, coffee is washed clean water and graded in grading channels. Parchment is laid to dry on raised beds. During the busy season when the beds are in constant use, parchment may be soaked in clean, circulating water for up to 24 hours before being dried. Workers rake parchment frequently to ensure even drying. It takes approximately 14 to 21 days for parchment to dry.
In order to improve their environmental impact, Mwiria has 9 water soak pits that filter and drain waste water from processing. By planting Napier grass and plenty of trees around the pits, excess nutrients and other processing byproducts are filtered from the water, keeping water sources cleaner & safer for nearby communities and helping to return nutrients to the soil and plants.
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