Makueni farmers back to contract sorghum farming on new seed variety

Makueni farmers back to contract sorghum farming on new seed variety

A sorghum farm. FILE PHOTO | NMG Sorghum farmers in Makueni County are returning to contract farming with brewers after getting a new seed variety that is less prone to destruction caused by birds, which had driven them abandoning the crop.

Brewers normally prefer Gadam variety for processing of Keg, however, this variety targeted by the birds and they end up eating everything that growers have planted, subjecting them to losses.

Wilson Lati, was among farmers contracted by East African Breweries Limited in 2018 to grow sorghum but abandoned it two years later because of birds.

“We suffered huge losses because of birds and that is why most of us abandoned the crop though we had been contracted to grow white sorghum used for manufacturing Keg,” said Mr Lati.

However, Egerton University has now developed a variety that is not liked by bird and has seen some of the farmers who had abandoned the crop start farming again.

Mr Bernard Biwott, a seed specialist at Egerton said farmers should embrace the new variety that is less appealing to the birds.

“Gadam is liked by birds and is susceptible to pests. We have released Egerton University Sorghum 1 that has high nutritive value and cannot be destroyed by birds,” said Mr Biwott.

A apart from being less attractive to birds, the new variety is also fast maturing, drought resistant and high yielding.

It has potential to produce three tonnes per hectare compared to the current popular Gadam, which produces an average of 500 kilos.

Kenya Breweries Limited last year increased orders for barley and sorghum following high demand for beer in the wake of the easing of Covid-19 restriction that allowed bars to operate until 9pm.

The beer maker increased demand for sorghum and barley to 20,000 tonnes last year July from their earlier figure of 12,000 tonnes on increased demand for beer, offering a major boost to farmers.

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