Following outcry by white sorghum farmers in Tharaka over rejection of their last season’s farms produce by Kenya breweries limited due to high levels of aflatoxin poisoning, the buyer now has moved to curb the possibility of the same occurring in the current season.
As a way of sensitizing farmers on better practices to carry out the sorghum farming which is free from the poisoning, KBL in partnership with Quinam Kenya and the office of Tharaka MP office held farmers Baraza at Kirundi in Mukothima ward, Tharaka north sub county to talk to farmers on how to ensure the current crops on the farm are up to standards through application of Afla safe chemicals offered for free to farmers.
Speaking during the baraza, Gerald Gacheru a KBL official in charge of farming in Tharaka said they decided to have a sitting with the farmers to educate them on the importance of Afla-safe chemical after the farmers incurred huge losses from last season’s produce due to presence of high levels of the poison in their produce.
“After noticing how our farmers who have been supplying us with the product made losses in March season, we decided to bring them a product called Afla-safe for free which should be applied on the soil before the flowering of crops to counter the possible poison in their crops which translates to high yields,’’ Gacheru said.
According to Gacheru, already 8,000 farmers have been sensitized and given the product for free to ensure their current crops on firms are not affected by the ravaging poison.
“As at now we have been able to talk to more than 8,000 and also we have offered them the Afla-safe product for free to use in their farms. Currently we also have in store 80 tonnes of the products to be offered to farmers for free for the next 3 weeks before the crops starts flowering,’’ he continued.
Nancy Wambui the director of Quinam Kenya enterprises which doubles as agent for Kenya Breweries limited in supply of sorghum said they have been sourcing from the farmers about 500 tonnes of sorghum which they later supplies to the buyer company to relief the small scale farmers the burden of having to look for market on their own.
Tharaka Nithi is among the counties that has experienced high levels of aflatoxin infestation leading to increased sorghum post-harvest losses resulting from weather and climatic changes in the region, where farmers made huge loses in last season after their produce were rejected by the company due to aflatoxin presence.
Since 2009 KBL has been carrying out contract farming of white sorghum in Tharaka where farmers are always guaranteed the market for their produce through the local aggregators contracted by the buyer company and who later delivers to the company. However if one carries out large scale farming of the same ranging from 10 acres may have a direct contract with KBL.
Silvester Mutwiri who represented the office of Tharaka MP urged the county government to support the small scale farmer to realize desirable profits from the farming by reducing the double cess charged to farmers when transporting the produce from Tharaka Nithi to Meru County.