T. J O'Shea.

Farming & planting in British East Africa. A description of the leading agricultural centres and an account of agricultural conditions and prospects online

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Online LibraryT. J O'SheaFarming & planting in British East Africa. A description of the leading agricultural centres and an account of agricultural conditions and prospects → online text (page 13 of 16)
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but for dairying no portion of the Protectorate
enjoys greater advantages. A daily train enables
one to send milk to the Capital : any surplus can be
profitably turned into butter or cheese — for which
Nairobi supplies a constant market.

Since its first tin shanties began to dot the
plains, Nairobi has depended on Limuru for the
greater proportion of its fruit and vegetable supplies,
and market gardening has already begun to figure
as a source of revenue in the district. Fruit grow-
ing, too, is receiving attention. Nearly every farm
has its orchard. Deciduous fruits, no less than citrus,
do extremely well, and in the normal course of
development lyimuru should figure prominently in
the fruit exporting districts of British East Africa.

Its wonderful suitability for horse-breeding is
regarded by many as among the greatest assets of
the district. For many years past the industry has
been pursued on a small scale, and no disease of any
kind has ever been contracted in the district. Horses
do remarkedly well — maintaining perfect health and
condition on the natural grasses alone, it being
necessary to .supplement this feed with corn only
when they are doing exceptionally heavy work.

PIG BREEDING. In a country where feed is so plentiful and

cheap, it is only to be expected that pig breeding
would receive its share of attention. Pigs can be
reared at extremely low cost. Owing to the equable
climate expensive housing accommodation is not
required; from the time the youngsters are weaned
until it is time to finish them off little more than
grazing on the rich grasses and clovers of the
district is necessary, and for the final staiges of
fattening, potatoes, maize, and barley are obtainable
cheaply. There is a bacon factory in the district and


another on the Railway a few miles higher up the
line, while Nairobi provides a ready market for

Lucerne has been grown at Limuru for the past lucerne.
ten years without irrigation, and in ordinary seasons
six crops are taken off in the twelve months. The
average yield has been I/2 tons per acre per annum,
for which there is usually a good market at about
£a per ton. Of course, if the lucerne fields were
irrigated the return would be more than doubled, but
lucerne is such a valuable fodder that it could never
prove an unprofitable crop for the farmer.

Although owing to the hilly nature of the chreals.
country, the cultivation of cereals in the district on
a large scale is impracticable, wheat, oats, barley and
rye have been grown successfully on small areas.
The two former are subject to rust, and — until such
time as experiment results in the evolving of
varieties of seed more suitable to local conditions
than those at present available — they can only be
cultivated on the same land once. Barley and rye
are not attacked by rust to any extent.

Linseed has been grown successfully for the flax.
seed, but it is too early yet to speak on the quality
of the flax. Small experimental patches have given
fibre of very promising quality. It yet remains to be
seen, however, whether the district is suited to the
production of flax on a commercial scale.

Limuru has been w-ell known for some years iotatoes.
past as a potatoe producing centre, the quality and
yield being well above the average. An export trade
with South Africa w-as started, but was greatly
hampered by the want of storage and shipping
facilities, and progress in this direction can not be
looked for until, after the cessation of war, it is
possible to proceed with the several Government
schemes for improving the country's export trade

Limuru is one of the few districts in British tea.
East Africa where tea has been tried. As far back
as 1903 a nursery was started by the late Mr. G. W.
L. Caine with seed of the ]\Ianipur hybrid type.


PROSPECTS From the result of the first sowing it was evident

OF TEA. that the soil and climate suited this plant, and about

two acres of land was cleared for the purpose of
making a small plantation the following year, but
the season proved unpropitious and a number of the
plants died. Notwithstanding this, some 500 trees
of this experiment are in evidence to-day, and
stronger, healthier or more luxuriant trees one could
not wish to see. In 1908 a sample plucking was
taken from which tea was made and sent to the
Imperial Institute. This and a further sample sent
to a firm of London brokers in 191 1 were, taking all
the circumstances into consideration, very favourably
reported on, and there can be little doubt that
Limuru, as well as other parts of the Protectorate,
is suited to the cultivation of the tea plant. Doubt-
less had not coffee come so rapidly into pubHc favour,
greater attention would have been given to tea, but
it is only a matter of time when this extensive and
highly profitable industry will be added to the long
list of revenue producing activities that make Limuru
one of the most attractive areas of European settle-
ment in British East Africa.



SITUATION. Sixty- four miles by rail from Nairobi, and fifty-

eight from Nakuru, Naivasha Station represents the
"half way house" between the two leading Highland
centres, and is, in itself, a place of first importance
to East Africa.


Naivasha Township, at an altitude of 6,200 feet
above sea level, lies at the foot of the Aberdare
Range, and commands magnificent views of the
surrounding country, and the crater lake from which
it takes its name.

Post and Telegraph Offices, a good hotel, well
stocked stores, a butchery and bakery, provide for
domestic and business needs, while social and sport-
ing amenities are represented by tennis, golf, duck,
partridge, pigeon, and big game shooting.


The Provincial and District Commissioners are-
in residence here, and other Government offices,.


Photo by Qlciman.


such as the Public Works Department, the E. A.
Police, Medical and Veterinary Ofl&cers, etc., are
also represented.

Naivasha Lake is almost round, being roughly a PERFECT
12 by 12 miles. Feathery papyrus, nodding bull panorama.
rush, and graceful reeds form a perfect setting for
myriads of blue, pink, and white water lilies. The
limpid waters of the lake reflect on their placid
surface the rugged peaks of Longonot, the forest clad
slopes of the Mau Escarpment, and the Aberdare
Mountains, with giant Kinangop dim in the back-
ground — the whole forming a vision of such perfect
loveliness as defies description.

Here is the breeding place of countless wildfowl, sport.
— two varieties of geese, fifteen or twenty kinds of
duck, and snipe, coot, tern, flamingoe, crane, divers,
and waders innumerable. Scarlet and blue king-
fishers, fiery coloured sunbirds, and flocks of widdah
and other finks, red legged plover, spindle, shanked
sandpipers, etc., etc., keep the air quivering with
life and song. Hippos breed largely and otters are
also plentiful. Although the water is excellent for
drinking purposes, fish are absent, with the exception
of a small kind of minnow. Possibly due to this fact,
crocodile are unknown, and bathing therefore can
be indulged in, without fear of this curse of African

No shooting is permitted on the lake, or within close season
one mile of its shores, from ist May to 14th October FOR
inclusive. shooting.

The lake is an ideal place for motor boats and
lovers of yachting; numerous islets forming attractive
camping spots for picnics.

As a pleasure resort and sanatorium, the lake is
of great value to the surrounding district, but its
business value is equally great. Its waters form the
hub of a giant wheel, whose spokes are represented
by the boundaries of numerous farms fronting the
lake shore. The railway runs for some miles within
a few hundred yards of Lake Naivasha, and the
possibilities of water borne transport are too obvious
to call for further comment. Althoujgh the shore


is, in most places, shallow for some distance, there
are numerous points where good deep anchorage can
be obtained alongside clififs, promontories, and natural

Lying in that part of the great Rift Valley,
which is bounded on the North by the Aberdare
Mountains, on the South by the Mau Escarpment,
the country in between consists, for the most part, of
level grassy plains, plentifully dotted with shade
trees. The grass is short and sweet, and the general
effect is that of an enormous well kept park.

The foothills of the Mau Escarpment reach close
to the Southern side of the lake, and on the West
the slopes of Eburru end at the waters edge. On the
East, the jajgged peaks of Longonot, distant some
10 miles, are sharply defined, and the combination of
mountain and plain gives a variety of grazing and
soil, climate and temperature, to suit all tastes.

The Gilgil and Morendat Rivers, which rise in
the Aberdare Mountains, empty into the lake on the
North, but although there are indications of under-
ground exits, no rivers flow above ground away from
Naivasha. A small crater lake close to the southern
shore rises and falls in sympathy with Naivasha lake
level, and strengthens the theory of an underground
exit. Boring operations have been successful, iinding
good water at lake level, while wells are numerous
and springs fairly plentiful. Windmills are popular
for farming purposes.


The rainfall varies with the altitude, ranging
from roughly 30 inches to 45 inches per annum.

Close to the lake, there is a belt of rich dark soil
which has proven unsurpassed for lucerne, mealies,
and agriculture generally. On the hill slopes, dark
and light chocolate loams are found, but the plain
country is for the most part of a light sandy nature,
unrivalled for stock, but less suited to agriculture.

On the plains, timber is mostly confined to
small shade trees; mimosa and a species of Ritchiea
(closely allied to the Caper) predominating. But on
the mountain slopes, dense forest occurs, providing


ample supplies of heavy timber, such as cedar, podo-
carpus, olive, etc.

The Masai, Nandi, and Lumbwa tribes furnish i,\bour.
herds, and attendants for stock farmers, while agri-
cultural labourers are obtained from the Wakavirondo,
Wakikuyu and Wameru natives.

Grade and Native Cattle have proven highly i.ivestock-
successful and in the former both milch and beef
stock are well represented. The milk is rich in quality
and the yield plentiful, so that dairying is highly
remunerative. Sheep are commanding attention, and
the percentage of lambing and prices realized for wool
have been highly satisf acton,'. Horses, mules,
donkeys, goats, fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, etc.,
are greatly in favour, and there should be a bi;g future
for all of these.

Grazing is particularly rich, and the feed varied, crazing.
consequently a large amount of stock can be carried
to the acre. The success of lucerne on the Lake shore
increases the possibilities enormously, and what com-
prises amongst the best natural grazing in Ivast
Africa, gains from lucerne and proximity to the rail-
way a special value, which cannot be found in many
places elsewhere.

In addition to mealies and lucerne, — beans, and STAPLE
various cereals have succeeded, and mauigel wurzel.s products.
have yielded heavy crops at about 6,500 ft. altitude.
But broadly speaking, Naivasha District is principally
devoted to stock farming at present.

Adjacent to the district the forest country of game.
the Aberdares and the Man provides a variety of
big game, such as Elephant, Rhino, Bufifalo, Lion,
Leopard, Bongo, etc., iDut these are some few days
away, and with the exception of lion and leopard, are
seldom if ever seen in the vicinity of fanns. In
earlier days, ravages by the larger carnivora among
stock were frequent, but closer settlement, sportsmen,
traps and poison, have thinned out the lions and
leopards, until the appearance of either is a "seven
days wonder" in local circles. On the plains game is
confined to various antelope, such as hartebeeste,
waterbuck. Grants gazelle, Thompson's gazelle, bush
and reed buck, klipspringer and dik dik (on the foot-






hills) and a few herds of zebra. In addition to the
birdlife already mentioned elsewhere, two varieties of
partridge, three francolin, guinea fowl, quail, and
several kinds of pigeon are common. Warthoig, hare,
cerval, and cheetah may also be included in the list. '

The sandy and level nature of the plains result
in roads of good natural quality, rendering transport
by wagons, motor cars and motor cycles an easy

The air is dry and bracing — keen in the morning
and evening, sunny and bright for the most part of
the year, between the hours of lo a.m. and 5 p.m.
Fires are common at night, and warm clothing
necessary. Naivasha may justly claim to be the
Sanatorium of East Africa, for all who can stand an
altitude of 6,000 feet upwards. Children thrive, and
business men find a panacea for jaded nerves in this
truly bracing climate. Mosquitoes are common on
the edge of the lake, but rare a few hundred yards
inland, while the fever mosquito (anopheles) is un-
known so far as my information goes.

These naturally vary according to altitude, but
all ordinary vegetables do well, and lettuce, cabbage,
cauliflower, broad and other beans, potatoes, rhubarb,
etc., are common. With regard to fruit, the same
remarks apply, but the altitude renders the success of
more tropical fruits such as citrus, pineapples, paw-
paws, grenadillas, etc., doubtful. Pears, apples,
peaches, and plums, strawberries, mulberries, figs,
etc., thrive in various localities.

The Government Farm, situate some five miles
from the township, gives a practical demonstration of
the success which attends stock farming, and is of
unique value to the newcomer, who is enabled to
acquire information based upon experience covering
a large number of years.

Equi-distant between the two principal Big Game
Areas of East Africa, Naivasha enables residents to
indulge in shooting trips at comparatively low cost,
and on the Aberdare Mountains, some twenty miles
from the township, the streams are well stocked with
trout. These readily take a fly, and fish up to nine
pounds weight have been recorded.




THE district of Nyeri is situate between Mount situation.
Kenia and the Aberdare Range at an altitude
of about 6,000 feet, and is distant about 100 miles
from Nairobi. A good road through Fort Hall and
Thika connects it with the Capital. The Nairobi-
Thika railway accounts for 30 miles of the distance,
and it is the intention at some future date to continue
this line to Nyeri : in fact the work had already been
started when war broke out, but had to be suspended.

It is chiefly undulating country, of soil a deep soil and
chocolate colour very rich in humus, with a deep rich rivers.
subsoil, similar to that of Kyambu. The district is
exceptionally well watered, principally by the Chania,
Muringatto, and other tributaries of the Tana and by
the Tana river itself. These rivers are capable of
supplying more than sufficient power for all the likely
requirements of the district, and are already being
made use of in this way.

The climate is healthy and bracing : malaria does climate.
not appear to be present in the locality. The natural
beauty of the district is exceptional, even for a country
like British East Africa. Timber is scattered in
patches, and parts of the great Kenia Forest are near
enough to permit of their utilisation by the settlers in
the district. There are two saw-mills, which turn out
excellent building materials.

Development of various agricultural industries
has been continuous for several years past. There are
nearly one thousand acres under coffee, which is
doing excellently, while sugar cane is grown along
the rivers by both settlers and the natives. Beans and
maize do well, and flax has been proved to do so.
The farm of the Italian Mission grows wheat success-
fully, and most fruits — especially citrus — do well.

The district being situate in the midst of an
immense native reserve, labour is plentiful and cheap.
Men receive Rs. 4/- per month and women Rs. 3/-.

The country further out toward West Kenia is
pre-eminently suited to cattle and sheep, the grazing
being exceptionally good. Sheep do better there than
perhaps anywhere else in the Protectorate. South
Kenia is an endemic East Coast fever area.








T^HE Kabete Experimental Farm was selected in
1907 by a Board of practical settlers and agri-
cultural officials in place of the original Experimental
Farm adjoining Muthaiga, where the soil was mostly
of an iron stone formation, variable in quality and
depth, and not representative of the arable land in the
Kyambu, Kikuyu, and Limuru districts lying to the
north and west; neither was it representative of the
large grazing- area to the south and east. On the other
hand the Kabete Farm, which is situated on the
border of the Kikuyu Reserve, is representative of the
surrounding farms, and is 1,250 acres in extent.
The Railway line some six miles west of Nairobi
forms its south western boundary, and the Katisura
(a permanent stream) its north eastern boundary.
It thus occupies a convenient site and is readily
accessible by either road or rail.

PURPOSES The purposes of the farm are : —

OF THE (a) To acertain what crops are most suited to

FARM. surrounding localities.

(b) To demonstrate the cultivation and manur-
ing of crops, fruit trees, etc.

(c) To ascertain what stock do best : to
establish pure breeds of cattle and pigs for the
use and benefit of settlers, and so help forward the
development of agriculture.



The farm is well watered. Besides the boundary
stream, another small stream runs through the centre,
which is fed b_v several springs. The main spring
has a capacity of 40,000 gallons per 24 hours of pure
water, very suitable for livestock and household pur-
poses, and varies little in its flow throughout the year.
The boundary stream has been tapped about two miles
further up, and by means of a furrow water is con-
veyed to the farm for irrigation and other purposes.

A large stone building has been erected and forms
the centre piece of a proposed extensive steading, the
building of which will be proceeded with according
to plan when funds are available. Stone piggeries
are already provided, but the cattle sheds and stock
yards are, so far, temporary erections. Houses foi"


the staff have been erected, and a further stone build-
ing is now being commenced for the Station Assistant.

Five hexagonal huts of stone and iron, vdth the accommoda-
necessary conveniences, are provided for the use of nos for
pupils or young would-be-settlers from home or else- pupils.
where, who are able to spend a few months or more
at the farm, acquiring local knowledge before taking
up farming on their own. Enquiries from military
men and others are being received as to the conditions
under which a course of training in agriculture can
be undertaken, and it is anticipated that at the close
of hostilities, the hostel huts will again be in request.

This institution consists of three large stone build- kiii\»RMA-
ings capable of housing about a hundred inmates, and tory.
the warders. Suitable outhouse accommodation is
also provided. During the past year the juvenile
offenders averaged 70 monthly. The youths are
regularly employed in the lighter operations of the
farm such as milking, care of pigs and other live
stock, budding of citrus and other trees, cultivation
and curing of tobacco, pruning of coffee trees and
curing of the berries, treatment of flax, rearing of
silk worms, etc., etc. Elementary instruction in
school is also afforded the inmates. On completion
of his term of detention a certificate is given each
youth stating the special branch of agricultural or
horticulture in which he has become efficient.

This is situated on the higher farm lands adjoin- 1 vtiiologicai,
ing the railway, where there is a siding at Mile 333. : \boratory.
For its size the Laboratory is said to be one of tht
best equipped in all Africa.

The position of this is between the main nursery i..\t(jmological
and fruit section. Here, and in the fields, are studied laboratory.
and worked out the life histories of pests, etc., and
control measures devised for dealing with the same.
A fairly extensive collection of entomological speci-
mens has been got together and is constantly being
added to. Experiments in the rearing of Eri and
other silk worms, are being conducted.

The cultivations are on two sections of the farm, arabian
one on the south side of the road near the entrance coffff.
to the farm from the Kirawa end, and the other on

the higher land in the direction of the Pathological
Laboratory. In the first field there are 5472 bearing
trees mostly planted in November, iqti, the vacan-
cies being filled up the following spring. In the
second field the bearing trees number 8564, nearly
all of which were established in 191 2. The crop
of cured parchment coffee from both fields amounted,
during the past year, to 19,620 lbs. — an average yield
per tree of about ilb. 6 ozs., the bulk of which was
disposed of at Nairobi at 27 cents per pound. Coffee
leaf disease was present in places, but the control
measures adopted prevented any serious harm being

COFFEE The pulping of the whole of the 191 6- 17 crop

CURING was done with a small Jamaica pulper, located in the

MACHINERY. main nursery grounds, where the curing was also
carried out. As the coming year's crop is estimated
at 12 to 15 tons of cured parchment coft'ee, proper
facilities for dealing therewith have been provided
adjoining the spring. A Gordon "A." pulper has
been installed, and the necessary fermenting and
washing tanks, etc. The utilization of the new site
necessitated the draining of a small swamp which
was filled in with stones and other suitable material
at hand. An upper terrace where the coffee beans
will be cured has been laid out, the whole work
necessitating the removal of about 640 cubic yards
of material. Houses for storing the coffee have
been erected.


Flax thrives well at Kabete. A retting tank,
small hand breaker and a treadle scutching machine
are in use on the farm. The demonstrations initiated
by the late Mr. R. Dedonckele in the treatment of
flax are being continued by his successor. During
the past year several settlers interested in flax
growing indentured a number of their boys for
a few months to receive training in the treatment of
the plant.

CITRUS. Much useful work is being done by the Citrus

Expert in the direction of the establishment of a
citrus industry in the Protectorate. 3660 budded
plants of assorted oranges, lemons, Tahiti lime, and
grape fruit, were sent out during 1916-17. A con-
siderably larger number of budded plants are in the
nurseries, and will be ready for disposal during next


short rains. In the previous year the number of
budded citrus plants disposed of, which included
oranges, limes, naatjes, lemons, and grape fruit,
totalled 4,938. Rough lemon stocks amount to 9,700.

The citrus trees at Kabete carry heavy crops of
fruit. Lemons, limes and grape fruit are very satis-
factory. The oranges and naatjes are of fine size, but
somewhat lacking in flavour. This may be due to
stock influence, or to cross pollination by the lemons
planted close by.

Exhaustive trials with various varieties of tobacco.
tobacco have been carried out over a series of years
at Kabete. While growth has been excellent the
quality of the tobacco has not been all that was
desired, as is shown by the following report from the
\dvisor for Tobacco : —

" Samples of six varieties of tobacco grown at
Kabete were sent home for report. These
samples included both air cured and sun cured
leaf. The report shows that these types of leaf
are not acceptable in the home market at highly
remiuierative prices. The type of leaf desired
is a bright flue cured leaf, for which the Kabete
soil is not suitable."

During 191 6, 4,050 lbs. of cured tobacco leaf, and
200 lbs. of manufactured snuff, were disposed of to
the Military at cost price. A further large quantity

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Online LibraryT. J O'SheaFarming & planting in British East Africa. A description of the leading agricultural centres and an account of agricultural conditions and prospects → online text (page 13 of 16)