In spite of fears of drought, Kenya's coffee reduces are predicting a good year to follow last year's record production, as the coffee picking season opens.
TRACKING SHOT THROUGH Coffee plantation passing coffee plants (2 shots)
TV Coffee plants being irrigated
GV PAN Plantation
SV & CU Man pruning trees (3 shots)
TV Women weeding beneath plants
SV Man sprinkling fertiliser from bag
SV & BV Machine used for spraying plants (2 shots)
CU Ripe beans on branches (2 shots)
CU & SV Women picking beans (4 shots)
SV PAN Estate manager's land-rover drives past between plants
Initials BB/1759 RS/MR/BB/1732
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Background: In spite of fears of drought, Kenya's coffee reduces are predicting a good year to follow last year's record production, as the coffee picking season opens.
Last year's record crop of 76,000 tons, after the reintroduction of free world trading in coffee, brought in GBP36 million sterling in foreign exchange, confirming coffee as Kenya's number on money earner.
For Kenya's high quality "arabica" varieties of coffee are popular with the coffee drinkers of 30 nations, particularly West Germany, Holland, Sweden and Great Britain.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival in Kenya of the group of Holy Ghost Fathers, mainly from Alsace in france, who brought coffee growing to Kenya.
The first mention of Kenya coffee is in a diary kept by the Fathers which establishes the date of the first plantation as 1900. "November 8th 1900: Thanks to the abundant rains, trees brought over from Europe and the 100 coffee trees from Bura do well".
This year the rains were not so abundant and experts believed production would be seriously down.
But thanks to irrigation, the coffee berries are riping now, and the pickers are gathering to bring in a crop expected to be nearly as good as last year's record.
Coffee growing is a big employer of labour in country where unemployment is high. There are 800 large plantations and there has been a remarkable growth in recent years in the numbers of African smallholders selling small amounts of coffee through co-operatives.
But the inflation which has led to heavy increases in the prices of fertilisers, chemicals and insecticides has caused greater problems for the small African farmers who produce nearly half the total crop.