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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with us. We also do a bit of shooting that day if
the larder is empty.

But, you will ask, how is the new comer to how to make
start? I should advise him first of all to decide ,\ start.
what line of work he means to take up, planting,
agriculture or dairying. If he has not decided this
let him spend a time visiting the different centres
and studying the life, and when he has made up
his mind, let him put in a year on the farm of
one of those who have spent years in studying the
local conditions that govern that particular line. A
year spent on a farm as a pupil will not by any
means be wasted, as the new comer will be able to
learn the language of the country, without which
he will be at the mercy of an interpreter, who is
not always a disinterested party. He will also see
the methods adopted out here, where conditions are
so different from those at home. The time and


money spent in this way should be a sound invest-
ment, as it will enable him to gain much

CAPITAL The amount of capital needed for a start de-

REQUIRED. pends on many things. Are you to get a farm
near the railway or out at the back? What stock
are you going to have — the native, grade or pure
bred? They have all advantages and disadvan-
tages. Are you going to live simply and work
hard or are you going to live on the fat of the
land and pay a manager to do the work? Are you
going to start in a small way and work up, or on a
large farm and hang the expense? In any case
the more capital you have the better. I will try
and give you an idea of what I think is the irreduci-
ble minimum.


Land looo acres @ say lo/-

Transfer and Legal expenses

Rent (2 years) say

Tools, fence wire, cart, etc

Bull (pure bred)

36 cows and calves (Native)

28 dry cows do.

8 trained oxen

Three months' running expenses

Dip for cattle ...











The price of the land depends on its grazing
value and proximity to the railway and something
might be saved there. The need for a dip depends
on how near the public road the farm is, and if the
farm were at the end of a road and immune oxen
were used, it might be possible that a couple of
adjacent farms could put in a dip between them.
A further saving might be made by using a grade
bull instead of a pure bred bull but the calves are not
of so much value.

After paying living and running expenses, the
return from this outlay does not amount to much
until the first lot of calves are two years old, when
the bulls may be sold oflf. If half the calves were


9. <









bulls they should bring in a further ;£i5o, increasing
as the head of stock grew. Then when the farm
is stocked up, which should be in about six or
seven years from the start, and supposing only one
beast could be run to two acres, there will also
be the female increase to sell off. If the land is
of reasonable quality, when the farm is stocked up
with decent milk producers, giving say a gallon of
milk a day besides rearing the calf, and the cattle
graded, then the return from it should be in the
neighbourhood of ;£3,ooo a year, out of which run-
ning expenses must be paid. This is based on
pre-war prices.

On the whole I think one may safely say that (lOOD pros-
tliere is a good prospect Qut here for any man who I'ECTS.
is keen cm dairy work and does not object to
working hard and living plainly at first and who
has a cajjital of at least £1,500 when he lands in
the country.



TN B.E.A., where the soil in many places is equal b.e.a. as a

to any in the world, the apple, pear, peach and fruit
plum, can be grown par excellence from an altitude country.
of four to eight or nine thousand feet above sea level.

A number of orchards, principally in the Macha-
kos and Limuru districts, are already supplying the
local markets with fruit; numerous others have been
laid down in different parts of the Protectorate, and
the volume of production likely to be available in
the near future is such that several schemes for
canning factories are imder consideration.

Because of its commanding popularity among
the European settlers, the apple is receiving first
consideration from deciduous fruit growers, and
a large range of varieties has been experimented


SELECTING All varieties, however, will not prove sufl&-

THE BEST cicntly productive to justify extensive cultivation^

VARIETIES. and so the planter will naturally choose those which
have proved themselves the best under our cli-
matic conditions, both as regards fertility and the
quality of the fruit. For instance, there are more
than thirteen hundred separate and distinct kinds
of apples, yet not more than twenty-five of these
are in general cultivation. I^ocal experiment and
experience are the only reliable tests as to the suit-
ability of any particular sort of tree to a neigh-
bourhood. The plan of consecutive cropping by
planting late and early varieties, so much practised
in England, is not of much advantage in this coun-
try, where both late and early varieties are in bear-
ing practically all the year round. In selecting
varieties, therefore, planters would be well advised
to give little heed to whether varieties are "late" or
"early," but to concentrate on those known to do
best in their district.


After the finding of proper climatic conditions,
soil, and varieties of tree, the most imporant con-
sideration is to find the right stocks. If the land to
be planted is on a high and well drained situation,
peach stock for both plums and peaches, and pear
stock for pears, will be found the best for this
country. For apples, the planter has to select for
himself between Northern Spy and Paradise
stocks. The advantages of the former are that it
is absolutely blight proof to the graft, which is
about twelve inches above ground level, and that
it makes a large tree and therefore is capable of
carrying more fruit; of the latter, that it dwarfs
the tree, keeping it within easy reach for pruning,
spraying and picking. Also, the apple tree on
Paradise stock usually comes into bearing earlier
than the same apple tree grafted on to Northern Spy.

PLANTING The proper distances to plant are approximately,

DISTANCES. twenty to twenty-four feet apart for Standard

Apple trees on Northern Spy stock; dwarf apple trees
on Paradise stock, twelve feet; Peaches, Nectar-
ines, Apricots, and Pears, twenty-four feet; Plums,
fifteen feet; and Dwarf Pear trees on Quince stock,
twelve feet.


Before obtaining fruit trees, the planter should preparing
thoroughly cultivate the land. In the case of THE land.
virgin soil a crop of meahes should be put in the
season before. Holes three feet square by two
to three feet deep should be dug beforehand, so
that the newly planted trees many get all the
moisture and rain available, and that the roots may
have a chance of spreading rapidly, which is es-
sential to the formation of a strong healthy tree.
Any white ants in or near the plantation should be
dug out or otherwise destroyed, as these pests are
very destructive to fruit trees in this country. As
in South Africa, they ring bark many of the young
trees. Thorough and constant cultivation, how-
ever, keeps them in check.

A windbreak of Eucalyptus gums or other wind breaks.
quick growing trees, should be planted to protect
the trees from shedding their blossoms, and from
the strain of high winds when the branches are

If the planter purchases his fruit trees direct ]., anting up.
from the nurseries, and does not propagate them
himself, he should place them under shade im-
mediately on arrival, and water well. He should
then take each tree separately and prune the roots.
Every root broken or bruised should be cut clean
with a sharp knife, and every dead root should be
taken out. The trees are then ready for planting.
It may often happen that when the trees have
taken three or four weeks in transit, they arrive
with suckers starting to shoot up from the roots.
All these should be taken oflF before planting. If
the main stems are dead on arrival, however, one
or two of these suckers may be left to grow, and
these will give in six months time a stock on
which to graft or bud a good variety.

The best time to plant trees in this country is best time
at the beginning of a rainy season; but they may to plant.
also be planted in between seasons if well watered
at the time of planting, and regularly thereafter at
frequent intervals. The shamba should be

thoroughly cultivated at least once a week to keep
down weeds, aerate the soil and to retain the
moisture. If the ground is allowed to become




caked and hard at the surface, the fruit
trees are doomed to failure. In this country the
air is so dry in comparison with the moist cHmates
of most parts of Europe, that only plantations of
fruit trees, instead of the grass orchards found
throughout England, would be successful.

For cultivating the plantation, a single ox
cultivator is the best, allowing the cultivator to
operate close to the tree without injuring the
branches, which often happens when more than
one ox is used. Manuring is not necessary in the
rich soil we possess in B.E.A. until the trees start
to bear, and then the ground should only receive
manure in proportion to what is taken from it by
the fruit. Manuring young trees gives them an
over luxuriance which is as bad as weakness of
growth in a tree; both of which tend to make trees
unhealthy and encourage disease among them.
Ordinary farmyard manure has all the chemical
elements required to promote growth and fruitful-
ness, so no artificial manures need be used. It
should be spread broadcast throughout the planta-
tion, and not merely around the base of each tree.
Lime and bone meal in small quantities would be
useful in old shamba-land which is deficient in
these properties, but it is not likely to be needed
extensively in this country for fruit cultivation for
some years to come.

Pruning should start as soon as the trees get
established, and it will need close attention for a
year or two to shape the trees well and to produce
the fruit spurs in the best positions. This is done
by allowing about four or five well balanced shoots
only in the first instance, and these equally placed
ground the tree. When the shoots have made
good growth they should be shortened back to
within one foot of the stem, and two shoots be
allowed to form from the top of each former one,
and again next season repeat the same process.
This will give within two years time a well shaped
tree, with numerous fruit buds all along the
branches, well exposed to the sun and air, which
will enlarge and ripen the fruit. When once the
tree is symmetrical and well balanced, little fur-
ther care will be necessary, beyond the cutting out


of all dead wood, and such cross branches as are
cutting or chafing each other. It is well to re-
member in cutting stone fruit trees, such as plums
and peaches, that the less cutting done with a knife
the better, as they are very Hable to bleed and lose
a quantity of sap. It is as necessary with a plum or
peach to get a well shaped tree, as with apple and

Should an intending fruit grower read any insect PESTS
large proportion of the numerous books on the mar- and diseases.
ket, deahng with injurious insects and diseases, he
will most likely get such a shock that he will give
up his fruit growing intentions altogether. But if
pests and diseases are rightly considered, they are
easy to overcome, and they also serve the purpose
of keeping the fruit grower in a state of mental
alertness ! In this country fruit trees should be
sprayed three or four times yearly — when they are
in blossom, when the fruit is ripe, and once or
twice during the dry seasons. Pests injurious to
fruit trees may be divided into four classes: — (i)
insects that eat or chew their food, which includes
the whole tribe of beetles, worms and caterpillars.
These can be destroyed by spraying with an arseni-
cal mixture. Paris Green is generally employed
for this purpose. (2) Insects that suck their food,
as plant lice and scale, which are destroyed by
kerosine or resin washes. (3) Parasitic fungoid
diseases, such as canker, mildew of the grape, or
apple scab. When any of these show themselves,
the trees should at once be sprayed with one of the
many fungicidal mixtures on the market. And (4)
lastly, there are bacterial diseases, or what may be
known as conditional troubles. Such diseases are
seen in the withering up of the fohage, and the
drying up of part of the tree. There is no specific
treatment for troubles of this sort, except cutting
away dead or diseased parts and burning them.
The old adage, "Prevention is better than cure,**
goes a long way in fruit growing. Insects follow
on the heels of disease, and disease soon comes
after injury done to the trees by insects. The
causes of disease and injury should therefore be
permanently removed as far as possible, and then
spraying will keep disease in check and maintain
the trees in healthy condition. The chief causes of


disease in fruit trees are bad drainage, improper
manuring, over cropping, over luxuriance, and
weakness of growth.

Anyone who has seen fruit properly grown and
taken care of in this country, will not question the
statement that the yield per tree in British East
Africa is greater than in any other country in the
world, when the most productive varieties are
planted under favourable conditions. It is nothing
unusual to obtain ;^i per tree per annum on an
average for the fruit from apples, pears, peaches,
and plums when the trees are in full bearing, if the
fruit is sold locally.

It is extremely likely that for some few years
yet B.E-A. will consume all the fruit we can pro-
duce, but sooner or later there will be a surplus for
export, and as soon as the war is over efforts
should be made to organize proper marketing facili-
ties for export to Europe, cold storage on the
railway, at the docks and on the steamers. Given
these necessary facilities, and government support
such as is given in other countries, there is no rea-
son why B.E.A. should not successfully compete
with America, Austraha and South Africa in the
home fruit markets.



'Pholo by S. T. Lydford-


ri8,62o feet;


n^O write an article of any value on Sugar Cane an industry
-*- growing in B.E.A. is rather a delicate task. The still in its
fact is that the industry is in its very earliest stages experimental
and accurate experiments so far are on so small a STAGES,
scale that it is rather dangerous to rely on them too
confidently. Yet, so far as these experiments go,
they point to great possibilities; and the matter is
certainly worth following up.

I shall not here enter into any elaborate details
of culture or manufacture. Anyone who wishes to
go into the matter thoroughly should study the
numerous publications on the subject, a useful collec-
tion of which are now available in the Library of the
Agricultural Department at Nairobi. I propose to
give a very short sketch of what is at present known
of the Sugar Cane in this country, and to devote the
rest of my space to suggesting some of the more im-
portant factors to be taken into consideration by any
intending planter. Unfortunately, though it is not
hard to point out the existence of these factors, it is
as yet impossible to assign any definite value to each.
So a big margin is left for individual judgment and
willingness to take risks.

The cane appears to grow at all altitudes in
B.E.A. from the Coast up to about 8,000 feet.

It seems to have been grown by most of the native
tribes from time immemorial, but only for eating nr
as a source of tembo. None of the natives, so far
as I know, used it for sugar making. Their system
of extracting the juice consists in peehng and cutting
up the cane, and pounding the pieces in a wooden
motar. The resulting "megasse" is then taken in
handfuls, each handful wound round with a piece of
stout string made from wild Sansiviera fibre, and
wrung out as dry as possible by hand. The juice is
diluted and fermented by gentle heat, and the result-
ing tembo drunk at once.


INDIAN" There is also a small industry carried on by

EFFORTS. Indians in various parts of the country, in making

Giir or J agger ee. They grow small patches of cane,
and extract the juice with small bullock mills —
mostly of American make. The juice is boiled in a
single pan over an open fire, till ready for the
" strike," when the pan is lifted off the fire and the
contents poured into a shallow box to cool. The
resulting mass is dug out as soon as it has set, and
packed by hand into moulds — such as a small bucket
— and left to harden. In some cases it is simply
worked up by hand into balls. As a rule no temper-
ing agent seems to be used in the juice, but I believe
some makers add a little Magadi soda. The product
of this process is ,used almost entirely by the Indians.
It has a peculiar taste which Europeans do not as a
rule like. Even the Natives do not buy it if they
can get imported sugar, even at double the price.

THE FIRST EX- It is only quite lately that Europeans have begun

PERIMENTAL to take any interest in the Cane, though the Agricul-
PLANTATION. tural Department published a small leaflet on it many
years ago. So far as I know, the first sugar crystals
to be made in this country were made by myself, at
this farm, in March, 1914. I had been making ex-
periments in growing the canes for some years pre-
viously. The mill was a Chattanooga 3 roller mill,
moved by a pair of bullocks. The battery consisted
of 5 cast iron pans set very roughly over a trench,
leading to a chimney formed in a tall ant hill. This
was experimental work, as we had everything to
learn. The crystals produced were small and sticky,,
but the financial results were good enough to induce
us to persevere. We installed the same plant in
better style, and built the pans into a good stone
furnace with a proper chimney and fire bars. We
also fitted up a sugar house with barrels for draining
the sugar in the old fashioned West Indian style.
This turned out a very nice little outfit, and we pro-
duced some very respectable sugar, which we had
no difficulty in selling at remunerative prices. At.
this time the Government Analysts very kindly took
a lot of trouble in analysing canes and juices for us.
We also kept careful records of the yields of diflFerent
plots, both in canes and sugar. As all the results
pointed to good yields and rich juices, we consider-
ably increased the area under canes, and are now
installing a larger mill driven by a water wheel, and


with various improvements in arrangement of the
pans and other details. Owing to the war, however,
we have still had to content ourselves with a com-
paratively primitive outfit. As I write the larger
factory is unfortunately not yet running, so I am
unable to give any figures of results. At the end of
the article I give some figures of analysis of juices, and
actual results obtained with our small mill which may
be of interest. See " A."

In considering the future possibilities of this
industry in B.E.A. it must be remembered that the
country comprises great variety of soils, climate and
temperatures, so that no general proposition can be
true of the whole country. I give below an estimate
of the areas available, as given by the Director of
Economic Products in a report which I should recom-
mend everyone interested to read for himself. It is
to be found in the Library of the Agricultural Depart-
ment in Nairobi, and is called "The British Sugar
Industry. A Memo, regarding the possibilities of its
development. West India Committee. March 4,
1914." See " B."

From these figures it will be seen that the largest SUITABLE
areas are near the Coast, in the deltas of the great areas on the
rivers. These areas may also probably prove best COAST,
for the actual growth of the canes. But they lie in
the less healthy parts, and from various circmn-
stances would naturally seem to demand develop-
ment by large capitaUsts or companies. The chief
obstacle to such development would probably be
Labour. From their position and large areas they
would probably have to be run with a view prin-
cipally to export trade overseas. Whether such
plantations will ever come into existence depends
greatly on what encouragement may be given to the
industry by the Imperial Government after the war.
It is worth noting that, judging from the above-
mentioned Memo, there is plenty of suitable cane
land in the Empire, but every country considers that
future development depends on Protection and
Labour Supply.

Next to the Coast areas in extent come the Kibos thk lake
and Kibigori lands near Lake Victoria — in fact on nisTRicr.
part of the ancient bed of that lake. These area^
are also probably among the best suited for exploita-


tion on a large scale, the climate seeming hardly fit
for close settlement by Europeans. Good canes seem
to be grown by the Indians at Kibos without any
irrigation. The labour conditions in these parts
should be good, and sugar produced here for local
consumption or for sending further up country would
enjoy a very .useful advantage over imported sugar
in the matter of freights.

POSSIBILITIES I take it, however, that readers of this book are

IN THE HIGH- Hkely to be most interested in the possibilities of the
LANDS. industry in the Highlands, where Europeans can

settle and work their own holdings in pleasant con-
ditions. Though figures are only available over such
a short time and small areas, and practically all on one
estate only, I think it reasonable to suppose that
canes will give good yields, under favourable condi-
tions, up to somewhere alaout 5,000 feet. It is
probable that much over this height the juices may
prove less rich — but so far there are no actual figures
to go upon. It is also probable that canes grown in
swamps will give inferior results, though they make
very handsome growth.

THE IDEAL The following seem to me the ideal conditions

CONDITIONS. for this country, so far as can be estimated at
present: — Altitude: Below 5,000 feet. Any good
soil, provided it can be well drained. Our canes have
all been grown on rather heavy alluvial soil. It seems
most important that there should be a good supply
of water, so situated that it can be easily led out by
cheap methods for irrigation and power. Fuel shoiuld
be available in fair quantities, enough for at least
4 or 5 years, till artificial plantations can be fit for
use. This is a very vital point, and where steam
power has to be used instead of water for the crush-
ing, it will be even more so. The question of plant-
ing up for future needs should be considered from
the first. Position : The smaller the outfit the less
nearness to the Rails will matter, provided there are
neighbours to buy the product on the spot. Freights
and transport, of course, act as a very useful protec-
tion under such circumstances. This in fact is one
of the points that would seem to make it possible,
even under pre-war conditions, to run even a cheap
and wasteful plant with success, if used with proper
care and intelligence.


Photo hy _4. C. Ban


Under the heading of position should be cou- an important
sidered another point, comparatively unimportant at considera-
the moment, but Ukely to be vital eventually. That tion.
is, the extent of land in the immediate neighbourhood
suitable for canes, and whether that area would be
sufficient to support a large modern factory in the
future. For it must never be forgotten that, should
cane growing attain to any important dimensions,
the inevitable tendency is towards a concentration
ro,und large factories that can be worked economically.
In such a case small, isolated plants would either
have to close down, or keep running only by making
raw sugar to be sold to the factories for refining.

It should be mentioned that the Uba cane is atTHE uba
present being tried on several farms in Kikuyu and cane.
elsewhere, without irrigation, and at altitudes con-
siderably above 5,000 feet. None of these experi-
ments have so far reached the stage of actual tests

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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 4 of 16)