Name Kakuzi Plc
GGN 4049929945616
Country Kenia

Farm Profile

Kakuzi Plc grows and markets avocados, cultivates manufactures and markets tea, grows and markets macadamia nuts, and is involved in livestock farming and forestry development. One of our major contributions to advancing Good Agricultural and Social Practices in Kenya is that we provide our employees with housing, medical care, water and support with education and environmental protection.

Under environmental protection, Kakuzi carries out activities that prevent or control erosion, and thus reduce the loss of nutrients and the negative impacts on water bodies. The areas are identified in maps and contoured out to guide and help the team focus the needed interventions to the respective areas. Activities of the program are focused on the identification of adverse effect on the soils which are susceptible to erosion, as well as soil properties and characteristics, climatic conditions, topography and agricultural practices affecting the crop. In addition, we have a soil or crop fertilization program based on soil characteristics and geological properties, periodic soil or foliage sampling and analysis, and advice from competent and impartial professionals and authorities.

 

Achievements

KAKUZI PLC - OUR WATER - OUR SOILS - OUR SOULS

Last month during one of the many visits by schools and colleges to our operations, a question was asked by one of the pupils. She was seeking to know the basic requirements for a plant to grow: water, soil and air, was the response she got.  We believe the response was not far from the truth without complicating it with scientific explanations. It is understood that agriculture uses colossal amounts of fresh water, it is also understood that climate change is impacting negatively on the water-cycle and soils by extension.  At Kakuzi, we have agreed that we need to put in adaptation measures to climate change, responsibly manage our water use, and sustainably feed our soils to enable the soils to feed the plants we grow.  This is a passion that we share by educating 2000 avocado smallholders that we work with, and ensure that our trainee managers embed this way of thinking into their daily work. In short, the gospel of water and soil management is shared, the Kakuzi way.

We have long been concerned with the disappearance of Acacia lahai and A. abyssinica around this part of the country. A unique plant - each mature specimen happily supports a miniature eco-system of ferns, orchids, mosses and acts as anchor points for weaver birds’ nests, etc.  Many are now reaching the end of their life-span, and no one, to our knowledge, is replanting them. As we have observed, acacias grow in age-sets and the next age-group is missing. In response to this issue as well as others of reduced biodiversity, we have introduced a unique way of managing fallow land and its relative water cycle. We have created a unique program of natural regeneration of acacia and other indigenous trees to regenerate acacias, in age-sets of course! From observation, volunteer trees grow fast, compared to planted trees, as we believe that they ‘chose’ the most suitable environment for their optimal growth.  Our staff have been trained to observe and recognize the natural successional cycles occurring within local forests and grasslands.  Without an appreciation of these, it is impossible to speed up regeneration by attempting to ‘short-circuit’ the cycles. This land is where our rainwater flows to fill the dams that supply us with water, and its proper maintenance forms part of our strategy, to stretch the rains.

With no river, lake or any other natural water source traversing Kakuzi, the farm, has been developed with a series of dams, to harness rainwater. This rainwater is abundant enough to irrigate our avocado and macadamia orchard and pineapples, and to fulfill the water requirements of our livestock. It also provides water for neighboring communities, via a stream of clean water from the Kakuzi’s property. All of our irrigation is done through micro-sprinklers, strategically placed around the plants. The use of tensiometers and evapotranspiration pans informs plant water needs. No water is wasted. All of this water use is authorized, documented and each rain drop can be accounted for by the company. A team of plumbers maintain the irrigation systems, to prevent leaks and pipe bursts.

The dams are a home to crocodiles, hippopotamuses, fish, frogs, snakes, water plants and other aquatic life. Birds frequent the water bodies. Interestingly, all indicators of water quality can be assessed, in and around the dams, through observation of plants and animals. African honey bees love the dams too. What started as an effort to harness water has resulted in sustainable benefit to the biodiversity of the landscape.

One of the objectives of sustainable agriculture is the long-term improvement of the soils, to support agricultural production. Kakuzi carries out activities that prevent or control erosion, and thus reduce the loss of nutrients and the negative impacts on water bodies. The areas are identified in maps and contoured out to guide and help the team focus the needed interventions to the respective areas. Activities of the program are focused on the identification of adverse effect on the soils which are susceptible to erosion, as well as soil properties and characteristics, climatic conditions, topography and agricultural practices affecting the crop. In addition, we have a soil or crop fertilization program based on soil characteristics and geological properties, periodic soil or foliage sampling and analysis, and advice from competent and impartial professionals and authorities. The number of soil and foliage samples corresponds with the size of the production area, types of soil, and variations in soil properties, as well as results of previous analyses and expert advice. We keep the analyses results on the farm for over four-year period. Organic and non-organic fertilizers are applied avoiding any potential negative impacts on the environment. We give priority to organic fertilization using residues generated by the farm.

Rainwater harvesting from roofs is an age-old practice that provides additional water to housed employees. Potable drinking water is supplied from boreholes, recharged through our rain-stretching activities. We strongly share in the belief that there is enough water in the universe to meet ecological, private, agricultural, and corporate needs, on condition that we focus on managing surface, sub-surface and underground aquatic resources. Our rain-stretching exercise involves: rainwater harvesting from roofs, ground water recharge through infiltration traps, rainwater harvesting and storage in dams, comprehensive program with clear records of rainfall and evapotranspiration, water usage, operator training, and equipment maintenance across the farm.

We use and continue to expand the use of vegetative ground cover to reduce water loss and soil erosion, and improve soil fertility; structure and organic material content, as well as continuing to minimize the use of herbicides. We have a vegetative ground cover establishment and expansion plan that indicates the areas with existing cover, as well as areas where cover will be established in the future, with a comprehensive timeline of activities. We promote the use of fallow areas with natural or planted vegetation, e.g. beans, oats etc. in order to recover natural fertility and interrupt pest life cycles. We have a plan that indicates the fallow techniques or practices e.g. planting, natural regeneration, etc., identified in the fields and on the farm map. Burning is highly discouraged as a means to prepare land. Finally, we ensure that new production areas are only located on land with the climatic, soil and topographic conditions suitable for the intensity level of the agricultural production planned. The establishment of new production areas is based on land use capacity studies that demonstrate long-term production capacity. The cutting of natural forest cover or burning to prepare new production areas is not practiced.

For the first time this year, despite an event of heavy rainfall, there was no evidence whatsoever of topsoil movement, even on high gradient slopes. Shallow infiltration pits that have been dug across the roadsides and hillsides at close intervals were staggered to prevent runoff in bypassing a pit.  There had been little overspill, and infiltration appeared to have been optimal (100%).  No part of the orchards showed stress.

The benefit from the avocado and macadamia orchards is air purification, through carbon sequestration, controlled wind speed, improved landscape and, of course, the hydrologic cycle is maintained sustainably. Improved bio-diversity, social, environmental and fringe benefit of economic value i.e. employment creation, profits and revenue to the government cannot be forgotten.

I am not aware of any other organizations within East Africa that have under-taken such a broad-based and finely detailed initiative to address environmental issues from, in a manner of speaking, the ground up. Without the strong educational component incorporated by Kakuzi in this program, “drive-by” and “checklist” auditing can only have fairly superficial results. Kakuzi believes, as I do, in learning to address causes rather than effects – and this is achieved by common-sense environmental education at a practical level… I believe it is only by education, encouragement and networking between management teams, employees, government and other stakeholders that Kakuzi will achieve its goal of a sustainable, committed approach to identifying and solving environmental problems at all levels.” Ms. Dee Raymer (May her soul rest in peace)