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History

The original site of the current Kakuzi originates from land acquired by Donald Seth-Smith in 1906. With his partner and principal backer, Lord Cranworth, some 10,117 Hectares were acquired. The central location for this estate was christened Makuyu, the native name for fig tree, which remains at the Head Office to this day.

The original crop planted on the estate was sisal then in huge demand for rope manufacture. Kakuzi Plc itself is a union of two companies with sisal growing interests; Kakuzi  Fibrelands Limited, a public company growing sisal and coffee, and a neighbouring sisal company, Sisal Limited. Both companies merged in 1966 to form Kakuzi Plc. In the face of increased competition from synthetic materials, sisal production ceased in 1987.

Coffee had been produced on Kakuzi since 1919. Around that time Sisal Limited also started looking further afield and acquired land in Nandi Hills which was planted with tea, selling green leaf to neighbouring factories for processing into black tea. This arrangement was not satisfactory and when the neighbouring estate, Siret Tea Estate, came on the market, Kakuzi acquired it complete with a processing factory.

During the 1960s a number of additional coffee estates were added to the portfolio. Following a significant drought in 1984, the coffee plantations started to show symptoms of a serious fungal disease, Fusarium, which had been imported from poorly run neighbouring estates. New planting was not an option as this became infected as well and diversification into other crops resulted. Avocados were particularly viable and planted in large areas. Another diversification, on land unsuitable for more valuable crops, is forestry. Planting started in 1992 and by the end of 2010 some 1242 Hectares had been planted.  Cattle were a further diversification during the 1980s when the size of the herd peaked at 7,500. As at August 2011 the herd was 4,407.

A major new water dam initiative undertaken by the Company in the Ngenya valley in 1990 provided new opportunities.  A joint venture initiative with Del Monte, a world leader in the growing, canning and marketing of pineapples was entered into in 1991 with 1032 Hectares under pineapple cultivation. As at August 2011, 1111 Hectares are under joint project pineapple production.

In summary, the current land usage of Kakuzi Limited is as follows.

Products Hectares
Tea 959
Avocados 408
Macadamia nuts 480
Fresh Pineapple 64
Forestry 1282
Cattle 2511 (Bomas)
  5294 (Ranch lands)
Joint Project Pineapple 1111