East African Breweries Limited (EABL) has partnered with Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme (KCEP), in a new initiative that will see sorghum and millet farmers in Kitui, Tharaka Nithi and Embu access direct markets for their cereal produce.
The new initiative, initiated through East African Malting (EAML), a subsidiary of EABL targets to rope in more than 12,000 farmers from Eastern region who will supply millet and sorghum to the brewer - key raw materials for beer production.
Speaking during the sensitization forum in Kitui, EAML’s General Manager, Mr. Lawrence Maina said the programme will significantly support vulnerable smallholder farmers, reduce poverty and boost food security for the rural households.
“EAML partnered with KCEP in order to enhance the value chain of sorghum and millet in the three counties of Eastern region. This initiative is aligned to EABL’s Jilishe kisha Uuze (grow, feed and sell) campaign, which encourages farmers to grow sorghum and millet for household consumption and sell the balance, for commercial use,” said Maina.
According to Maina, the programme is aimed at farmers with at least an acre of land in the three targeted counties. KCEP supports smallholder farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on maize, sorghum, millet and pulses.
In tandem with the forum, registered farmers under the initiative were issued with KCEP branded ‘e-Voucher’ cards. The e-Voucher system, is part of a broader initiative of KCEP to reduce transactions costs borne by farmers, improve the efficiency of farm input distribution; facilitate prompt payments and promote inclusive banking.
The programme is funded under a strategic Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) agreement between the Government of Kenya (GOK), the European Union (EU), and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Equity Bank.
The development comes a year after a reprieve from the government on the excise duty subjected to beer manufactured from sorghum. This has contributed to a growth across the value chain for sorghum.
Kenya Breweries Limited Managing Director Jane Karuku noted the initiative will not only boost the company’s local sourcing strategy which has risen from 40% to 80% in the last 3 years but also reinforce EABL’s sustainability strategy, deepening socio-economic benefits to the rural population.
“At KBL, we believe in growing value together for our business and communities. We are honoured to be at the centre of this programme that will potentially create and accelerate a robust supply chain, contributing to the establishment of a stable macro-economic environment steered by agriculture,” said Ms. Karuku.
She further, noted that “Senator has an integrated supply chain that includes farmers, distributors, agents, and consumers. We are engaging with over 32,000 sorghum farmers daily, 12,000 distributors and transporters and at the end the consumers have a safe drink. This supply value chain is solving a social problem.”
Ms Karuku said EABL targets to purchase 30,000 tonnes of sorghum in the next financial year, against the 18,000 tonnes that it currently gets from suppliers.
The increased supply will help EABL to meet the high demand for sorghum, occasioned by a revision of tax charge on Senator beer whose subsequent price reduction has given new impetus to its uptake.
Over the last decade, the sorghum value chain has become vibrant, in direct response to the guaranteed market EABL presents to farmers. The company has continuously reached out to farmers, encouraging them to grow quality sorghum for commercial consumption with the surplus helping boost food security across Kenya.