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Fact sheet on how to grow the highly demanded sorghum crop

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Sorghum is a crop that is on high demand in Kenya with companies such as the East African Breweries Limited looking for 45,000 more farmers to grow the crop after successfully contracting 17,000 in Western and Nyanza regions.

A research by EABL in 2017 reveals that Kenya trails her neighbors in sorghum production due to use of uncertified seeds by farmers.  According to the research, Kenya produced 144,000 metric tonnes of sorghum and imported 133,000 metric tonnes to curb the deficit while Ethiopia leads the region with over 280,000 tonnnes. Uganda produced approximately 170,000 tonnes while Tanzania produced 155,000 tonnes.

Sorghum does well in warm climates of temperatures between 25 and 32 degrees Celsius receiving annual rainfall of 420mm to 630mm per year such as Laikipia, Kwale, Baringo, Bungoma and Taita Taveta.

There are different varieties in Kenya such as E6518 which matures in seven months and is suitable for fodder. E1291, Ikinyaruka and BJ28 are suitable for both food and fodder and mature between 110 days to five months.

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The crop thrives in well drained loam sandy soils, with a pH of between 6 and 7.5. Two tillage rounds are sufficient for planting. The cost of tilling land in Kenya averages Sh3,000 per acre.

At a seed rate of about 15 kilograms per acre a 25 cm row to row distance is most appropriate, with holes being between two  and three centimeters deep. Planting is done by broadcasting the seeds on the seedbed.

The crop usually grows well without the use of fertilizers; however, farmers can apply farm yard manure at the rate of 10 to 15 tons per acre to increase macronutrients in the soil.

One month after sowing, top dress the crop with Calcium Ammonium Nitrate at the rate of 14 kilograms per acre. A 50 Kilogram bag of CAN costs between Sh1600 to Sh1800 in agro vets.

One hectare of sorghum can yield up to 1500kg. EABL buys a kilo of the crop at Sh30.


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