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Sorghum value addition opens new frontiers for Kenyan farmers


 The Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization, KALRO, is championing the value addition of sorghum, especially making of sorghum sausages as farmers record success in growth and market for the crop.

Sorghum has been one of the most successful crops in adoption across the country, especially in the arid and semi arid areas. This has been due to its drought resistant traits surviving where ordinarily other crops have failed. Introduction of new high yielding varieties of the crop has further worked to boost production. One such variety, the Sorghum Gadam, whose origins is South Sudan has been particularly fond with local farmers due to increased yields per acre.

But as weather patterns fail taking a toll on traditional crops like maize which is recording dwindling yields as seasons go by, sorghum continues soaring in terms of preference to farmers.  This has led to adoption of the crop by farmers in areas that traditionally never grew the crops. Areas like Central Kenya and Rift Valley are embracing full cultivation of the crop as weather patterns changes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.  The crop requires a third of water less to grow than other non conventional crops.

But is the opening up of markets by a wide range of buyers that has also made the crop enjoy widespread uptake among farmers. Buyers like the East African Breweries, who have been using it to make their beers have provided a ready market for farmers. The many uses of sorghum including sorghum stovers which are used as nutritious livestock fodder and the sorghum fortified flours which have been proven to boost immunity among the sick have opened up value addition enterprises which have seen farmers earn more.

Now KARLO, which is known for releasing a host of improved sorghum varieties and training farmers on new farm management practices, is working with sorghum farmers across the country, especially in arid and semi arid areas in value addition ventures in order to earn more. Through individual farmers and farmer groups, the institution is for example trialing making of sorghum sausages as demand for sausages in the country grows. “New value addition enterprises have been coming up targeting sausages, including chicken and rabbit sausages. We realized because we have taught our farmers new value addition enterprises like making fortified flours why not move it further and trial with something else. Sorghum sausages were our best bet and farmers are really embracing them,” said Alfred Oyunga a scientist at KARLO Kibos Center.

KALRO has also produced detailed brochures on easier ways of making and cooking sorghum brochures which they share with farmers in meetings with the brochures also available in all their centers at Sh30. “We want the farmers to not just learn to make the sausages for sale but for home consumption especially so that they can increase the nutrition of their families. There are people who might not like the taste in sorghum flour products so we felt why not increase the portfolio of the sorghum value added products,” said Oyunga. 

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