KBL revises upwards Sorghum, Barley uptake

Barley Growers Association of Kenya Chairman David Kilesi in a barley farm. He says move to reduce barley supplies is a blow to growers. [Robert Kiplagat, Standard]

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya Breweries (KBL) has revised upwards grain demands following the easing of covid-19 restriction measures by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Economic restrictions during the lockdown period depressed the brewer’s sales causing it to reduce grain demand
The easing of Covid-19 restrictions such as the reopening of on-trade outlets (bars, pubs, and restaurants) by the government has paved way for the revision of Kenya Breweries Limited’s grain demand.

The company on Wednesday said it will revise raw products' demand upwards to 20,000 tonnes for sorghum and 20,000 tonnes for barley, which is almost double the volumes projected in August during the lockdown.

Through East African Maltings Limited (EAML), KBL’s Contract Farming Program has thousands of farmers across the country. The company is reminding the registered farmers to plant and new ones to express interest to join the contract farming programme that will assure them of a market and pre-agreed prices for their produce.

“We honored all the contracts for the financial year 2019/2020, purchasing approximately 45,000 tons of barley and 32,000 tons of sorghum and paid all the farmers. We also promised to review our grain demand upwards once the trade was reopened warranting a greater supply from farmers as the demand for our beer grows”, said Eric Kiniti, EABL Group Corporate Relations Director.

 “Our local sourcing programme is a crucial business priority for us because it enables us to grow value together with the farmers in Kenya. We are currently working with over 47,000 farmers across Kenya who earned over Sh2 billion last year”, he added.

To champion diversity and inclusion, the company encouraged Persons With Disabilities to not shy away from joining the programme.

In March 2020, it kicked off a project for the inclusion of farmers with disabilities in Homabay County, western Kenya in partnership with Sightsavers. KBL attracted 39 farmers with disabilities with a total of 76.5 acres planting white sorghum for use in the production of Senator Keg beer.

Barley growing has taken root in Narok and Nakuru counties due to the ready market offered by the alcohol brewing company.

Last year, farmers in Mau Narok alone supplied the company with more than 40,000 tonnes of barley, which earned over Sh1 billion. They sold the produce at Sh37 per kilo.

Production of the crop, that is a key ingredient in the making of beer, was boosted a few years ago with the introduction of new grain varieties namely Grace and Aliciana, with the latter offering up to 2,200kg per acre.

Annually, EABL sources 50,000 metric tonnes of barley from close to 1,000 farmers in  Narok, Nakuru, Usain Gishu and Meru counties. Narok County, however, produces the highest percentage of barley accounting for more than 60 per cent of total barley.