Click hereto see the story in pictures. There's also a very informative video on YouTube made during WWII explaining the story of sisal. Planting The fields are prepared for planting. Holes are dug in rows of 100 marked out by a metal strip. Roots are trimmed from young plants and phosphate powder added to each hole to stimulate growth.
Harvesting Mature plants are harvested by cutting the lower spears. The sharp black tips are trimmed, the leaves tied in bundles of 25, stacked, counted and taken by truck to the decorticator.
Decorticator The awesome decorticator strips the outer layer of the sisal leaf (the cortex) to expose the sisal fibres within. Lots of water is used in the process which is taken from a borehole closeby.
Drying The wet and green fibres are stacked on poles and taken to the washing lines to dry. The drying wires are strung on crosses, at times, resembling a mass war grave. The sun dries and bleaches the fibres to the evocative and familiar cream colour of sisal.
Brushing and Bailing The fibres are brushed in huge drums and placed in layers in crates ready for bailing. The bailer exerts extreme pressure on the fibres to squash it into shape. One bale weighs 200 kg.
String and Rope Some sisal is spun into string and rope for tying the bales and for other local uses on the farm.
Waste & Recycling Some fibres escape the decorticator and are washed in channels to a dump. The lushious green cortex is bagged and put directly into the biogas plant on the farm. Through this, and the waste from the dairy cows, the farm can generate half it's electricity needs.
End products. All sisal from Kilifi Sisal Plantation is exported. It's used for making twine and rope, carpets, buffing cloth, dartboards, mattresses, handicrafts, wire rope cores (e.g. in elevators) and as an environmentally friendly padding in the dashboards and doors of Mercedes Benz cars.