Vision: To run a small-scale sisal industry focusing on great agronomy practices and quality maintenance programs.
Sisal is cultivated for fibre in Brazil, China, Cuba, Kenya, Haiti, Madagascar and Mexico.
Production patterns differ between countries. In Tanzania and Kenya sisal is predominantly a plantation crop, while production in Brazil is largely small-scale. In East Africa, sisal first arrived in Tanzania then from there the sisal seedling passed through the Indian Ocean to Coastal Region in a part of Kenya called Rabai. From Rabai sisal plant spread to other parts of Kenya.
Kilifi Plantations Ltd started growing sisal in 1964 as a small scale farm and it was their core business. Kilifi Plantations Ltd is the smallest sisal estate in Kenya.
The sisal fibre is lustrous and creamy white and measures up to 1 m in length, with a diameter of 200 to 400 microns. It is a coarse, hard fibre unsuitable for textiles or fabrics. But it is strong, durable and stretchable, does not absorb moisture easily, resists saltwater deterioration, and has a fine surface texture that accepts a wide range of dyes.
The hardy plant grows well in a variety of hot climates, including dry areas unsuitable for other crops. The sisal plant has a 7-10 year life span and is usually not cut first after 2-3 years and then at 6-12 month interval. After harvest, its leaves are cut and crushed in order to separate the pulp from the fibres. The average yield of dried fibres is about 1 tonnes per hectare,although yields in East Africa reach 2.5 tonnes.
Sisal is used in twine and ropes, but competition from polypropylene has weakened demand. In other markets are emerging today, sisal can be found in speciality paper, filters, geo textiles, mattresses, carpets and wall coverings.
It is used as reinforcement in plastic composite materials, particularly in automotive components, but also in furniture. Another promising use is as a substitute for asbestos in brake pads. It is also the best material for making dartboards.
By-products from sisal extraction can be used for making bio-gas, pharmaceutical ingredients and building material.