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State pledges support for sorghum production

By Dalton Nyabundi | January 31st 2019
By Dalton Nyabundi | January 31st 2019

NAIROBI, KENYA: The brewing of cheap beer at a Sh15 billion plant in Kisumu could register a frothing start following a Government pledge to support production of sorghum, its main raw material.

The brewery built by East African Breweries Limited (EABL) is undergoing final systems and quality test runs ahead of opening in the coming weeks. It will take up over 15, 000 tonnes of sorghum to produce up to 1 million litres of EABL’s flagship low end beer – Senator Keg.

In its quest to meet this high demand, the firm has over the last two years recruited 17, 000 farmers in Nyanza and Western regions but was still faced with a deficit, since many of the farmers are smallholders with between 1 and 3 acres of land, cultivated using traditional methods.

The ministry of Trade and Industrialization has however announced plans to support commercialization of the crop as part of efforts to push up industrialization, mitigate food insecurity, create jobs and fight killer illicit brews.

Speaking when he toured KBL’s Sh15 billion keg brewery in Kisumu this week, Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the Government would sensitise more farmers to take up the venture as an agribusiness. State agencies, he added, would provide the necessary support to realise this pledge.

“We want to identify specific value chains whose commercialisation we will support to drive the industrialisation agenda. Special cereals such as sorghum which is an industrial crop are among those we are committing to support and we want to now move towards turning them into agribusiness ventures,” he said.

The plan is expected to net into the existing fold of farmers an additional 30, 000 farmers across the country by 2022. It is also expected to see the amalgamation of adjacent small farms to form blocks so as to make commercial scale management such as land preparation, disease and pest control as well as provision of extension services easier.

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