The Centre occupies 405Ha (1000acres) and is located in Kilifi county along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway, 37km from Mombasa City. It lies at latitude 3°50’S and longitude 39° 28’E at an altitude of 185m above sea level. The mean annual rainfall is 850mm and is bimodal in distribution with peaks in April-May and October-December and temperature ranges from 25°C to 34°C. The area is classified as lowland livestock/millet agro ecological zone, which forms a transitional zone between the wetter coastal belt and the drier interior. The soils are derived from Mariakani sandstone are well drained, very deep brown, friable to firm and lack in organic matter. The vegetation is mainly acacia bush land with dominant grass species being Erangrostis spp, Cynodon spp and panicum spp. The centre has a 52 acres testing at Bamba, Ganze division, 40kms from Mariakani. It is in ecological Zone V with an average rainfall of 600mm per year.
Mariakani is located in Kilifi county in the coastal region of Kenya, it is one of the four centres of Beef Research Institute. Major programs are Ayrshire/ Sahiwal crossbreeding and commercialization of technologies tested and found suitable for the coastal region. The main research focus is on livestock and pasture grasses development. Under pasture program, emphasis is on multiplication of Rhodes grass variety X-Tozi for seed and hay production. The X-Toxi variety has proved popular in the coastal and eastern lowlands due to its ability to withstand drought and perform reasonably well in poor soils.
The other major activity is the testing of legume forage to supplement grasses. Several beef value chain grazing trials involving pasture / legume mixers have been conducted.
The Centre also maintains a satellite station at Bamba, in Ganze. This is an important site for testing technologies for the semi-arid Coastal lowland. Currently the site has a flock of Dopper sheep, Galla goats and a few Ayrshire/Sahiwal crosses and pasture grasses and legumes trials.
1) Ayrshire x Sahiwal crossbreeding program
Highly adaptable to the semi arid coastal lowland of Kenya and other areas of similar climatic conditions.
-Average milk yield of Ayrshire x Sahiwal crosses 10kg/day
Calf crop from Ayrshire x Sahiwal crosses for future replacement stock at Mariakani
2) Small Ruminant Research
• Suitable for upgrading the local Small East Africa goats
• Upgraded SEA goats are fast maturing and big body size for meat production
• Highly drought tolerant and suitable for the ASAL areas
• Big body size and fast maturing
• Used for upgrading the local Red Masai Sheep found in semi-arid Coastal Kenya
3) X-Toxi Rhodes grass multiplication program
X-Tozi Rhodes grass
• Drought tolerant pasture and adaptable to the Semi-arid coastal lowland, Kenya and other similar areas.
• Good and highly palatable material for hay making.
• Combines very well with legumes such as Clitoria ternatea, Stylosanthes scabra for improved nutrition.
Drying ears of X-Toxi Rhodes grass for seed at Mariakani
4) Pasture and Legume Intercrop experimental fields