Kenya Breweries Limited #ticker:EABL may suffer a setback in procuring sorghum for its Kisumu plant following heavy rains and voracious appetite by birds conspiring to destroy the crop still on farms.
Over 12,000 growers in Nyando, West Karachuonyo and Lambwe Valley in Kisumu and Homa Bay counties have been hit by the torrents and ravenous birds.
Chairperson of Homa Bay County sorghum farmers Ager Kiroho expressed fear the two may slash their harvests.
“Floods have destroyed our sorghum farms and rendered roads impassable. Birds attacking our crops has worsened the situation,” says Mr Kiroho.
Farms affected are in Got Oyaro, Okiki Amayo, Osodo and Nyangweta in Karachuonyo, and Got Jope, Waondo and Kamsama in Suba South Sub-North.
The crop is fairly drought resistant and thus quite popular in drier areas of the Kenya. It is also resistant to water logging and yields reasonably well on infertile soils, however, it wanes whenever there is too much water.
KBL provided farmers with inputs such as fertilisers.
Ojuka Adede, a sorghum farmer in Kagan, Rangwe said the incentives issued to them made their farming easy.
“The company should equip us with techniques on how to keep the birds at bay because they are discouraging farmers from growing the crop,” says Mr Adede.
The most devastating species is the Sudan Dioch (Quelea Queleaa ethiopica). Others are weavers, starling and bishop.
This has forced farmers to spend countless hours on their farms chasing the feathered creatures feasting on their sweat.
“We have no option but to spend uncountable number of hours in our farms chasing the birds away,” says Okello Kwanya, a farmer in Nyangweta.
“Although we have not signed any agreement with the brewer on insuring our crops against damages. We believe they will intervene,” says Mr Kiroho.
East African Breweries Ltd Company has been laying strategies to woo farmers to grow sorghum for its Kisumu factory on course for completion.
The company has even sponsored a group of growers from the region on a bench-marking field trip aimed at building crop production capacity ahead of the Kisumu plant re-opening.
The 50 farmers from Migori, Kisumu and Busia were selected to represent their counties in the first-ever event, aimed at establishing best practices and promoting learning and exchange of ideas between them.