Kenya: New sorghum variety to replace traditional raw materials for beer

East African Malting Limited (EAML) a subsidiary of East African Breweries Limited (EABL) has launched a new sorghum variety, which is even more drought-tolerant than the traditional sorghum varieties, is resistant to pests, birds and root lodging during heavy rains and delivers up to 15 per cent higher yields. For many years, Kenyan farmers have been relying on traditional open pollinated varieties such as the Brown Gadam and Serena for malting purposes but the introduction of the new hybrid ADV 23012, which was developed by Advanta, is a landmark in the agriculture sector.

Lawrence Maina, general manager of EAML revealed that commercial production of the seed has already started. “With the demand of Senator Keg soaring, our plan is to recruit more farmers, in order to ensure that our customers continue enjoying Senator keg uninterrupted. Our plan is to increase the current sorghum production from 30,000 tonnes to 40,000 tons by 2018,” he said.

Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), a subsidiary of EABL, which in turn is since 2000 majority owned by Diageo, has long been betting on barley as its raw material of choice. This however changed when rains failed in 2009 and crops like maize and barley suffered most from drought. Since then the brewery is betting on sorghum, which is the fifth most important grain crop in the world after maize, wheat, rice and barley. Sorghum is more drought tolerant, provides a cheaper source for raw material and can be locally grown, which supports local farmers and is part of the company’s social corporate responsibility. In June, Kenya Breweries announced to announced to set up a new Sh15 billion (US$140m) brewery in Kisumu, near Lake Victoria about 350 km northwest of the state’s capital Nairobi (, 2.7.2017).

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