Increased demand for sorghum grains by different markets in Kenya that has seen many farmers venture into the crop production has caused a high demand for seeds by the growers from 81 per cent in 2013 to 95 per cent in 2017.
The increased demand for the planting materials has since 2015 seen seed firms introduce different varieties to spur production. Some of the varieties in the market so far include KARI Mtama 1, Gadam, Seredo, and Serena among others.
According to a market report by Seed Trade Association of Kenya (STAK), market share for the top four sorghum seed companies in the country has steadily increased with more varieties being released between 2015 and 2017 than never before.
This has been attributed to the increasing status of sorghum as an important industrial crop in the brewing industry
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East African Malting, for instance, has been looking for farmers in the country to grow the crop under contract basis for the benefit of the ready market for the farmers currently the brewer is working with 20,000 farmers but still targeting 45,000 producers over the next five years.
The company pays Sh30 per kilo of sorghum delivered by farmers.
It is such markets that have seen the production of sorghum rise from 1.9 million bags in 2014 to 2.1 million bags last year, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Economic Survey 2019.
East African Breweries Ltd requirements of an estimated 60,000 metric tonnes annually with this expected to rise with a projected increase in beer consumption presents a tremendous market opportunity to farmers.
Photo: KARI Mtama 1 sorghum variety by KALRO.