East African Breweries Limited (EABL) is currently looking for over 45,000 farmers across the country to grow sorghum after successfully mobilizing about 17,000 farmers in Nyanza and western Kenya region during the previous campaigns to supply the brewer’s Kisumu plant.
The company has reported increased willingness among farmers in various parts of the country to enter in contract farming with them owing the ease of cultivating the crop and its great economic potential.
According to a 2016 research by Eric Manyasa, Scientist at ICRIASAT-Nairobi, sorghum is resistance to key constraints such as drought, striga and leaf diseases and it is over 35 per cent more valuable as compared to maize cultivation.
“Willingness among farmers to cultivate the crop has been awesome and we expect an upturn of 40 per cent in the grain delivered to our Kisumu plant in the coming two seasons. We are looking at upwards of 10,000 tonnes in March and about 4,000 in the short rains in September,” said Lawrence Maina, East African Maltings Limited (EAML) General Manager.
EABL through EAML which is its sorghum supply chain subsidiary, has identified six counties where it plans to contract more farmers to plant white sorghum for production of its low-end Senator keg beer.
The counties include Kakamega, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Baringo, Bungoma and the drier parts of Laikipia. The campaign is part of a five-year plan to grow the number of contracted farmers in arid and semi-arid areas to 45,000 under an initiative dubbed ‘Mtama ni Mali’ (sorghum is wealth).
“We are targeting an upward production of 10,000 tonnes in March and about 4,000 tonnes in the short rains in September,” said Maina.
The firm is banking on additional farmers and improved production to sustain output at its Nairobi brewery and the new Sh15 billion plant scheduled for opening next week in Kisumu.