Kenya Breweries Limited, the manufacturer of Kenya’s branded beer, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages is set to contract 30,000 farmers to provide the produce to its Kisumu plant which intends to begin operations in 1st July 2018.
According to a report published by United States Department of Agriculture, Kenya’s sorghum production increased from 140,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 150,000 metric tonnes in 2017, representing an increase of 7.14 per cent.
Sorghum is a crop used in making beer and is preferred to barley due to its drought resistance. The crop has a well-developed rooting system and the ability to roll up its leaves during the hot weather thus making it tolerant to harsh weather.
“We hope to contract 30,000 farmers from Siaya, Kisumu, Busia, Homa Bay, and Migori counties to supply the first batch of 15,000 tonnes of sorghum to begin with” said Jane Karuku, Kenya Breweries Managing Director.
“As we continue to expand our operations, we will contract 15,000 more farmers in the next five years to supply the crop”
The managing director was speaking on January 17th at Nyakach, Kisumu County during a farmer’s sensitization workshop aimed at educating prospective farmers on the best farming practices of the crop so as to maximize yields.
“With this project, we expect farmers’ earnings to increase from the current Sh2.2b to Sh6b annually over the next decade” said Jane.
A farmer holding a gadam sorghum head
The plan is also set to reduce illicit brew consumption in Kenya from the current 50 per cent to less than 20 per cent over the next five years as more Kenyans will be encouraged to consume more branded safe beers.
In Kenya, sorghum does well in areas 1500m above sea level receiving an average annual rainfall of 420 to 630mm per annum. These areas include but are not limited to western Kenya, Nyanza region, Eastern and some parts of the Coast region.
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) is promoting the cultivation of high quality sorghum varieties such as gadam for beer production. According to the research firm, gadam can produce yields of up to 25 to 35 bags per acre. Dobbs sorghum variety is suitable for areas around Lake Victoria and matures within four months. Other varieties include serena, E1291, E6518 and Ikinyaruka.
Sorghum seeds can be prepared by threshing dry heads of the crop after harvesting. Land preparation is usually done at the end of rains but planting is done at the onset of rains. The seeds should be planted on a firmly prepared seed bed with a spacing of 60 by 15 cm.
The crop usually grows well without the use of fertilizers but can respond well to the application of farm yard manure on moist soils. In the early stages of growth, weeds need to be controlled frequently for well establishment of the crop.
The most common pests and diseases affecting sorghum include the stem borers, sorghum shoot fly and leaf blight which can be controlled by early planting and disposal of affected plants.
With good crop husbandry practices, sorghum can yield up to 3000kg per hectare with one kilo earning Sh33 meaning farmers can fetch Sh99,000 per ha per season.
Kenya Breweries Ltd can be reached on +254 711 018000