KENYA – Leading alcohol manufacturer Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), has unveiled a KSh1 billion (US$9.2 million) fund to promote commercial production of a traditional sorghum variety.

The new variety is set to be a suitable alternative for brewing its Senator Keg brand, as the sorghum is resistant to pests and birds and is expected to give farmers a good return.

It was developed over a two-year period by crossbreeding with other varieties, reports Business Daily.

Under the initiative, the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed company is targeting to recruit more than 15,000 farmers in western Kenya in its latest efforts to ramp up production volumes.

The funds will be used in the promotion and provision of seeds and for buying sorghum from the farmers.

According to KBL western regional agribusiness manager Eliud Kiptoo, the brewer hopes to harvest more than 10,000 tonnes of sorghum during the long rains expected in mid-March 2021.

“With the new variety, farmers are now guaranteed to make harvests of at least 95 percent of their produce,” Mr. Kiptoo said.

The company’s Managing Director John Musunga, expressed confidence that the new venture would boost operations of its Ksh15 billion (US$137m) refurbished Kisumu plant.

“We aim to improve income and food security among smallholder farmers and make a huge economic empowerment for the people of western Kenya.

“Apart from being ideal for beer brewing, it is as nutritious as any other variety of sorghum,” he stated.

KBL western Kenya field supervisor Julius Kyalo said that the Kari mtama, Sila and Gadam sorghum varieties, which they had relied on reported losses of up to 40 percent among farmers due to birds’ voracious appetite for the grains.

“Subsequently, this saw the withdrawal of over 5,000 farmers who had been recruited to engage in the production of sorghum,” the officer said.

“With the new variety, farmers are now guaranteed to make harvests of at least 95 percent of their produce.”

KBL western regional agribusiness manager – Eliud Kiptoo

The new seeds will be ready by January 2020 and will be distributed to farmers in Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Siaya and Busia Counties.

Diageo SA launches US$1.7m relief fund for businesses hit by unrest

Meanwhile KBL’s parent company Diageo has launched a R25m (US$1.7m) relief initiative in South Africa to assist the country’s liquor industry to rebuild following the looting and destruction of businesses in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.

According to Bizcommunity, the money will go towards alcohol outlets that were vandalised and looted during the week-long riots.

The impact of an already strenuous year for many businesses due to lockdown restrictions has been worsened by recent events.

Diageo said it’s connecting with its partners and offering relief through this purpose-driven campaign geared towards rebuilding the industry.

“Diageo has been inspired by the many South Africans who have rolled up their sleeves to help clean up and rebuild.

“Diageo hopes this financial contribution and stock injection will help speed up the recovery of those businesses affected by the riots,” the company said.

Through the relief fund, the company will be able to assist businesses repair and replace shop fitting, replenishing of stock and clean-up drives.

Also, it will provide cash injections to help business owners pay their staff during a time where business operations have halted, marketing support, food parcels to restaurant and bar employees that have lost their jobs as well as giving trade partners reprieve on payment terms.

Zizwe Vundla, Diageo SA’s marketing director comments, “We want to see businesses rebuild and thrive again. We are prepared to work and contribute to the collective progress, from consumers to business owners.

“We must realise that even in distress we have always been able to rise above our challenges as South Africans.”

The latest commitment is in addition to the support that Diageo SA provided to the industry last year, through partnerships with the Restaurant Association of South Africa which saw more than 400 establishments in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban assisted with R200m (US$13.5m) support to cushion them from the blow of Covid-19 lockdown and the alcohol restrictions.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE