NAIROBI, Kenya May 5 – As part of its ongoing strategy to produce alcoholic beverages using locally grown raw materials and developing technologies, East African Breweries Ltd (EABL) through its subsidiary East African Maltings Ltd (EAML) has commenced purchase of sorghum grown in various semi-arid areas around the country with a key focus in Eastern Province.
In the past year, EABL has been involved in sorghum-growing piloting in the Province ‘s 17 districts. The company has also signed contracts with seed companies to produce and supply certified seeds for Gadam sorghum variety to be distributed to over 10,000 farmers.
“This new sorghum growing initiative in semi-arid areas is expected to impact the livelihood of over 25,000 farmers by providing an extra source of income to benefit the communities in which the sorghum is grown,” said Lawrence Maina, the Agriculture Manager at EAML.
In 2009, EAML signed a contract with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Seed unit and Western Seed Company to produce the sorghum seed which was distributed to about 3,000 farmers in Eastern province in the last planting season –September -October rains. The crop has now been harvested and deliveries of the same commenced in March 2010.
EABL will only buy the Gadam sorghum variety whose seed is purchased from KARI or its agents and is thus approved for beer manufacturing.
The company plans to use the sorghum as part of its innovation strategy and produce alcoholic beverages that will use sorghum as its main ingredient. The intention is to launch a new brand that is expected by end of 2011. (Projected commercial operation for the new alcoholic beverage is expected to begin in 2011. )
Mr Maina added that at the moment the beverage company seeks to use soghum and make beer for only its Senator range of products.