Counties

KBL targets 15,000 sorghum farmers in lake region

A woman plants sorghum in Otok, Homa-Bay County, on October 4, 2016. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A woman plants sorghum in Otok, Homa-Bay County, on October 4, 2016. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) #ticker:EABL targets to recruit 15,000 sorghum farmers in the lakeside region ahead of production set to commence next year.

The move has already excited small-scale farmers from Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Siaya and Busia counties who intend to start planting the drought-resistant plant as a cash crop.

Among other raw materials, the new plant will be heavily reliant on sorghum to produce Senator Keg brand, a beer is popular with low-end consumers.

The brewer has built a solid sorghum value chain that comprises farmers, a research institute, seed companies, financial institutions, fertiliser providers, mechanisation companies as well as sector service providers.

Speaking during a status update on the project in Kisumu, Kenya Breweries Limited Managing Director Jane Karuku said the brewery plant is set to be an engine of economic development and catalyst for the lakeside city and the neighbouring counties upon completion.

Expanded market

“The new plant will provide an expanded market opportunity mainly for sorghum farmers in Nyanza region and will offer guaranteed market for the crop,” she said.

The project, whose groundbreaking was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Diageo Global Chief Executive Ivan Menezes in July, is projected to handle up to a quarter of the output by Kenya Breweries.

Ms Karuku revealed initial civil works were commencing well and expressed confidence that KBL would set the stage for faster economic development.

“We have made a lot of progress at the new brewery site since July and we are delighted at the progress. We look forward to completing the construction works on schedule,” said the brewery boss.

During the current development phase, Kisumu County has enjoyed construction material and labour force supply benefits as part of the company’s local sourcing commitments.

To spur the local economy, Ms Karuku said the construction materials and majority of the labour force at the construction site are exclusively sourced from Kisumu County.

“Over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created when the brewery construction is completed and operations begin,” she said.

“The plant will also provide greater production capacity to meet the anticipated demand for affordable and healthy beverage which would effectively compete and eliminate illicit brews,” added Ms Karuku.

Project impact

Speaking during a stakeholder session, Kisumu County Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o hailed the project and reaffirmed the county’s support for the project, citing the socio-economic impact of the project to the county.

“The County of Kisumu supports this project and we look forward to enjoying its economic impact and the ripple effect of the brewery plant to the various sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction and transportation thereby positively transforming livelihood of our people,” said Prof Nyong’o.