Kenya’s number one beer maker, Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), is targeting the youth in a campaign aimed at making sorghum farming an attractive and profitable venture.
This comes at a time when reports shows that youth engagement in agriculture is declining amidst rising youth unemployment yet the services and industrial sectors, despite growing at considerably faster rates have not created enough jobs for the burgeoning youthful labor force.
According to The Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement, one of the major setbacks of agricultural development programmes is attributed to the inability of the federal government to integrate youths into the mainstream of the numerous agricultural development programmes implemented over the years.
To help solve this, KBL is offering fast-maturing seeds, free extension services, and steady farm and factory gate prices promises to lure the youth into farming white sorghum.
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White sorghum is used purposely to manufacture cheaper, low-end beer, whose production also seeks to lower the consumption of unhealthy illicit brews.
The spirited campaign across western Kenya is also aimed at helping the national and county governments solve unemployment problem by spurring growth in the informal sector.
The beer maker which is set to open a Sh15bn keg brewery in Kisumu next month is asking young people to cultivate as small as one-acre farms for steady returns.
With extension services that include directions on fertiliser use, the firm is assuring farmers of harvesting at least 18 bags an acre after just three months, and payment of Sh32 a kilo for the Gadam and Silo sorghum varieties.
In addition the brewer in collaboration with the Busia, Migori, Homa-Bay, Kisumu and Siaya county governments, will help farmers fight invasive grain-eating birds through seasonal spraying of nests.
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KBL Head of Engagement and Sustainability Jean Kiarie said bloc farming and the introduction of seed varieties that are less attractive to the birds were options they were exploring.
Although the firm initially targeted up to 25,000 farmers to supply the sorghum, Ms Kiarie said they were open to embracing as many small-scale farmers as possible.
While addressing an entrepreneurship summit in Busia, she urged the youth to embrace sorghum farming as well as the Senator Keg beer as the region gears up for the launch of Kisumu Brewery next month.
“We are implementing a ‘West for West’ strategy in our local sourcing of sorghum, which seeks to have the majority of raw materials for Kisumu Brewery sourced from the western and lake regions of the country.”
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The youth, she said, stood to benefit from the project, which promises ‘instant and steady returns on minimum investment’.
“The youth here in Busia County and across the region have been presented with a huge opportunity to join the agribusiness sector through sorghum farming or be part of our distribution channel for Senator Keg,” she said.