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We have a year or two to go before we are ready for full production. Right now (Q1 2014) we are ready to offer leaf and seed samples.
Please contact us if interested.
With about 8,000 trees on 2 hectares, the farm is optimised for both leaf and seed production. Depending on how the market goes or who we sign up with, we will keep this configuration for the time being.
Should we decide to go full leaf production, we can change the configuration to 800,000 to 1,000,000 trees per hectare. This intensive farming configuration requires a 10 centimetre spacing and grown in a low hedge format.
We have opted to go for full leaf production. We will expand the farm to approximately 105,000 trees. This is based primarily on our logistical capability and the availability of water.
Presently we use a drip system which, we believe, is suitable for 0.75 meter spacing and larger (the drips are manually inserted and the process is time consuming). We also find the drips expensive - approximately US$0.27 each for both the 2 litre and 4 litre per hour types.
In the future, we will do trials at 10 centimetre spacing but we will use a soaker pipe instead, inserted parallel to the roots.
We have started experimenting with a solar dryer frame based on a 30 x 8 meter heavy duty plastic that we found at one of the hardware stores in Malawi. Rather than go with wood, which is commonly used here, we decided to do with cut and threaded 2" galvanised pipe.
No tools are needed other than a pipe wrench and a pair of pliers. We did not want to make holes or cut the plastic in anyway either.
The whole structure is threaded and can be assembled in about 4 hours and disassembled in about 2 hours.
By removing the drying rack, the structure can be used as a green house.
We are almost there. We've had a few problems with wind. We need to find a really good solution to keep the plastic weighted down.
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