Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) has reversed its earlier decision to slash sorghum and barley supplies from contract farmers on account of reduced demand of its products due to COVID-19.
In a statement, the brewer says the decision to revise grain supply to 40,000 metric tonnes has been arrived at following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions such as the reopening of on-trade outlets especially bars, pubs and restaurants by the government which has since boosted demand.
“During the lockdown due to COVID-19, the economic restrictions depressed our sales and in turn caused us to reduce our grain demand. However, we took various steps to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic to our farmers,” said Eric Kiniti, EABL Group Corporate Relations Director
KBL announced in August, its intent to cut grain supply from its contract farmers by almost half, as demand for its alcoholic beverages remained suppressed on the backdrop of coronavirus containment measures.
The move now means the brewer will source 20,000 tonnes of sorghum and 20,000 tonnes of barley from its contract farmers, which is almost double the volumes projected in August at the height of the lockdown.
Through East African Maltings Limited (EAML), KBL’s Contract Farming Program has thousands of farmers across the country.
The company has urged registered farmers to plant and new ones to express interest to join the contract farming programme that will assure them of a market and pre-agreed prices for their produce.
“We honoured all the contracts for the financial year 2019/2020, purchasing approx. 45,000 tons of barley and 32,000 tons of sorghum and paid all the farmers. We also promised to review our grain demand upwards once trade was reopened warranting a greater supply from farmers as the demand for our beer grows”, said Eric Kiniti, EABL Group Corporate Relations Director.
Kiniti further states, “Our local sourcing programme is a crucial business priority for us because it enables us to grow value together with the farmers in Kenya. We are currently working with over 47,000 farmers across Kenya who earned over Kshs. 2 Billion last year.”
EABL is similarly encouraging Persons with Disabilities to join its contract farming programme which seeks to address diversity and inclusion.
The brewer kicked off the project for inclusion of farmers with disabilities in Homabay County, western Kenya in partnership with Sightsavers in March this year.
So far, 39 farmers with disabilities who have a total of 76.5 acres planting white sorghum for use in the production of Senator Keg beer have been enlisted.