The Baragwi FCS is today the largest cooperative in Kenya both in volume and number of members.
Baragwi Farmers Cooperative Society Limited is located in Baragwi and Karumandi locations – Gichugu Division in Kirinyaga County, Kenya, East Africa. It is named after the referred Location Baragwi. It borders with Ngariama and Njuki-ini locations to the East, Kabare and Kirima locations to the West; Mt Kenya to the North and Mwea Division to the South.The Society’s head office is situated at Kianyaga market at the end of Kutus/ Kianyaga tarmac road. The Society was registered on 26th October 1953 and given the registration Number CS/0398 as a coffee marketing Society with the following objectives: To promote social economic interests of its members. To arrange for coffee processing, grading, packing, transporting and marketing for the best price. Do any other activity deemed necessary for the most profitable disposal for the members, as set out in the Society’s by-laws. Membership consists of the original members who signed the application for registration and others who were subsequently admitted. To date the Society has 16,892 registered members. These members are drawn from the 12 wet mills which form the society. The society has a workforce of 137 staff members out of which 31 are female and 106 are male.
Cherries are hand sorted for unripes and overripes by the farmers before they go in to production. A disc pulping machine removes the skin and pulp. The coffees are graded by density in to 3 grades by the pulper. Grade 1 and 2 go separately to fermentation. Grade 3 is considered low grade. The coffee is fermented for 16-24 hours under closed shade. After fermentation the coffees are washed and again graded by density in washing channels and are then soaked under clean water from the Gatomboya stream for 16-18 hours.
Sun dried up to 21 days on African drying beds. Coffees are covered in plastic during midday and at night.
Kenya mainly produces fully washed coffees, and is considered by many as the world’s number one quality producer. There are more than 700 thousand coffee farmers (smallholders) representing about 55% of the production. The rest is mostly Estates.
FARMING AND PRODUCTION
The Cooperative Societies are the umbrella organization for one or several wetmills. Typically you have the Tekangu society that represents the wetmills Tegu, Karogoto and Ngunguru. The wet mills in Kenya are called Factories, e.g. Karogoto Factory.
A typical wet mill can have about 1000 farmers delivering cherries. They give a small advance payment at delivery. The better and well-managed wet mills are able to give more than 85% of the sales price back to the farmers. That’s after cost of milling and marketing is deducted.
Is done at the wet mills or at collection centers. When the farmers arrive at the place for delivery they would normally have to empty their bags on the floor (on a cover) to sort out unripe, overripe and CBD infected cherries.
When they start the pulper the cherries go by gravity in to the machine. They normally use disc pulpers such as old three disc Agaarde or similar brands. The parchment flows from the discs with water allowing the parchment to be separated by density. The densest beans will sink and are pumped straight through a channel to the fermentation tank as P1 (parchment 1 and is what we generally are buying.
After pulping, the coffees are dry fermented (water is drained off) in painted concrete tanks. Normally they are fermented for 18-24 hours. Many factories do intermediate washing every 6 – 8 hours, meaning they add water, stir up the parchment and drain it again.
Washing and soaking
When fermentation is completed and the mucilage is disolved the parchment gets washed in washing channels and graded again by density. The lighter beans will float off and the remaining dense parchment will normally be soaked in clean water up to 24 hours.
DRYING AND CONDITIONING
After soaking, the coffees are skin dried at hessian mesh mats for skin drying up to one day. After a day the coffees are moved to the traditional drying tables. The coffee is then normally dried on a surface of jute clothing or shade net on top of the wire mesh.
The drying time varies between 12 and 20 days depending on weather and rainfall.