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Reprieve for barley farmers as EABL resumes contractual farming

East Africa Maltings Limited Manager Lawrence Maina explaining to barley farmers on how to grow the new variety of barley in Narok North. [Robert Kiplagat, Standard]

A leading beer brewer has kicked off contract farming for barley farmers in Narok after the government reopened bars/clubs partially due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

A few months ago, barley farmers in Narok/Nakuru counties were dealt a huge blow after their main market -East African Breweries Ltd (EABL) through its subsidiary -East Africa Malting Ltd (EAML), announced to them that it will not be buying their produce that was ready for harvest. 

According to EAML’s Research and Liason Manager Mr Geoffrey Ochula, the company has begun giving out barley seeds to the 314 farmers that have been contracted to grow the crop in the next season.

Mr. Ochula who spoke at Tipis in Narok North where the company in conjunction with Dettol distributed soap and hand-washing equipment to farmers said they are anticipating a reduction in production from previous 45 metric tons to about 20Metric tons.

“We value our farmers and despite the company getting around 39 percent loss this year due to closure of bars/clubs, we have decided to get back to the farmers. Before Covid-19, we had a total of 652 contracted farmers in the region but now we have started with 314,” he said.

Annually, EABL sources 50,000MT of barley from close to 1,000 farmers in five counties of Narok, Nakuru, Usain Gishu and Meru. Narok County, however, produces the highest percentage of barley accounting for over 60 percent of total barley.

Johnson ole Kamaamia, a small-scale barley farmer at Oletipis area hailed the move by the EAML to resume contracting of farmers, terming the move as a huge reprieve for farmers who had suffered due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“We incurred heavy losses during the Covid-19 period. We welcome the move by the brewer to restart contract farming once again. We are happy,” said Mr Kamaamia.

He, however, called on the Ministry of Agriculture to consider giving stimulus package to barley, wheat and maize farmers to enable them to produce food for the country’s grain basket.

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