Located in the scenic view of Aberdares Mountains in citadels of fertile soil and fresh water of Ol-kalau, the farm has relatively spurred the growth of the town which is also headquarter of Nyandarua County. They are boosting the economy of the area in excess of 6 million indirectly every month; this is in form of salaries, bonuses and produce paid to locals’ among other monies.
The Farm is part of East African Growers Group; the pioneer farm being Shalimar located in Naivasha, Kabuku farm in Thika and their newly established Mwanzi farm in Rumuruti.
Producing T-hybrid and premium roses, the company understands that flowers offers linguistic of excitement and they want to ensure that their client’s feelings speak volumes with roses from the farm.
They are largely growing on natural soil but carefully shifting to hydroponics. ‘We are slowly shifting to hydroponics but the soils are still supreme. The cost of growing on soil is cheaper but there is usually a fifteen percent yield increase when growing hydroponically,’ revealed Natarajan Ramu the General Manager Flower division.
Soils sometimes have issues such as root rots and nematodes that are a challenge to address. When it comes to the devastating Downey mildew disease, it is easy to address it in hydroponic system in few days and the uptake of nutrients is first not like on soil. Chances of Downey mildew recovery on hydroponic are 85-95%, while on soil is 50-50%. On soil, it takes two flushes to recover against one flush in case the disease strikes.
The company is currently growing diverse varieties of different colours on fourteen and a half hectares. Their red color varieties include Upper class, Madam red and Ever Red. The white color varieties are Athena and Queen of Africa while by- pink colour is Bella Rose. For light pink they have two varieties Elsa and Revival, while other colors; light purple they have Nightingale and orange they have Confidential. Topson and H3O are their yellow and dark pink colors respectively.
Currently, the division has employed three hundred people from the locality and other areas. ‘’We usually harvest forty thousand stems per day. During peak seasons like valentine, we harvest even hundred thousand thus forcing us to source for additional labor to meet the demand,’’ commented Arun Misira the Marketing Manager.
Mites are a challenge especially when the temperature shoots up. To counter the effect, they use biological control and conventional methods such as pruning the affected roses when detected early, as well as spraying agro- silicon’s.
The company supply’s clean piped water to the community and provide a medical crèche to them as well. Furthermore, they have spread murrum on the roads around the farm and have a maintenance schedule for the same.
‘’One thing that we in the management value most are our employees. We treat them with a lot of dignity in that if there is a slight weakness it affects the output,’’ said Ntekerei Saruni, the Farm’s Manager
The farm is in the process of expanding its production area by an additional ten hectares. This they say will be achieved by adding new varieties of roses and targeting new customers.
Mahee vegetable Division
Besides rose production, Mahee has a splendid vegetable department that grows broccoli, runner beans, and French beans. Their vegetable pack house has a work force of one hundred and fifty employees who assist in its operations.
Mahee farm grows French beans on fifteen hectares piece of land. On average, they package three tones of french beans per day. Apart from their farm, they have contracted some out growers, whom their agronomists oversee closely for adherence to good agricultural practices.
The pods are usually harvested after they have achieved a maximum length of fifteen centimeters; that is after 11-12 weeks after planting. Harvesting per block is done twice per week.
Once the beans are harvested, they are taken to the pack house. ‘’Our pack house has a state of the art cooling facilities capable of holding over ten tons of vegetables to ensure freshness is consistent,’’ Joshua Kahura Kariuki, in charge of Compliance and Audits noted.
The beans are sorted, graded and trimmed to remove the terminal apex, then weighed but all this depends with clients requirements. They also do quality packaging and labeling to preserve the freshness of the vegetables.
To prevent against any outbreak of pests and diseases, the farm rotate French beans with broccoli, afterwards the land is left to rest for a period of three months.
Runner beans’ farming is also incorporated in this farm. The farm is on a continuous planting of 0.25 hectares per week of the newly introduced Equator variety in staggering blocks pattern. They had been planting White Emergo variety that requires extended light hours to grow.
Equator variety thrives in the open fields just like other crops with no preferential treatment. In this farm they have supported the plant to climb on 4 apex sticks tied on top.