Welcome to Kilifi Plantations
Kilifi Plantations is one of the greenest spaces in Kenya and home to an upwardly mobile community of 300 – 400 farm employees, a further 100 households, 7 schools and countless businesses in the vicinity.
This story is set in lush coastal countryside, where the Indian Ocean meets fertile Kilifi; although it began in the hills of Kilima Kiu, Ulu in Machakos, circa 1910.
One settler and then his two sons strove to build their business into the largest fully private processing unit in East Africa, delivering a consistently high quality product. This was during the 40s, 50s and 60s.
They transported daily thousands of litres of milk to Mombasa via insulated wagons pulled by steam trains. The brothers recognized that transporting milk 400 kilometres every day by train was an expensive and potentially very risky business. Thus, a plan was drawn to secure their dominant position in the Mombasa milk market – to bring the production unit to the consumer. So at the dawn of Independence in Kenya, the brothers acquired Kilifi Plantations in 1961.
The farm has since been family run for two consequent generations and continues to hold some of the highest employee standards of living in the region.
Kilifi Plantations was a monocrop sisal farm. Over the next 40 years, agave fields were converted lush pastures and forests preserved; sisal was still cultivated in the rockier parcels of land closer to the decorticating plant.
A dairy processing unit was incorporated for the thousand-and-some head of cattle that were gradually relocated from Ulu to their new home. Welcoming a challenge, the brothers continued to cross-breed top calibre livestock initially suited for colder climates (Bos Taurus) with hardier breeds (Bos Indicus), allowing them to adapt to coastal conditions.
By the early 1980s, the dream was realised: Kilifi Plantations was the biggest private individual milk production unit farm in East Africa. At its peak in 2009, the farm was milking 1100 cows and producing 14,000 litres of milk per day, and a further 22,000 litres from affiliate dairies supported through an in-calf heifer purchase and milk delivery programme.
For a couple of decades, Kilifi Plantations held a competitive market share producing and distributing milk, yogurt, butter and cheeses in iconic Kenyan household names, Kilifi Gold and Molo Milk.
The sisal operation, albeit significantly smaller than it was, produces what has been hailed as some of the finest grades of exported sisal fibre.
An era of milk processing paved a way for diverse agribusiness and collaboration, in renewable energy, agroforestry, horticulture and conservation.
Today, KP produces an average 2000 litres of milk daily, available in the market in a variety of ways, raw or pasteurised from Milk ATMs at Tuskys and Budget supermarkets in Mombasa, Kilifi and Malindi.
The name Kilifi Gold Milk remains synonymous with top quality creamy milk.
DID YOU KNOW? Kilifi Plantations holds a Guiness World Record. We set the world record in 1992, when Joseph Love became the first man to have milked the highest amount of milk by hand – 531 litres of milk from 30 cows in 24 hours. BY HAND.
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