White sorghum farmers from Tharaka have raised concerns over their last season’s produce which is still lying in their stores without knowing what to do with it.
The sorghum is farmed mainly to be surplied to Kenya breweries Limited(kbl) as a raw material for manufuctering of alcohol popularly known as Keg.
After farmers harvesting their produce from farms,they sells the produce to agents who ussually buys in bulk from farmers into their stores. These agents later surplies the Kisumu based brewery company with the commodity after getting a nod from the company.
However according to the current prevailing condition,the dealers may be left counting huge losses if at all the company will not move with speed to collect the huge stocks lying in their stores cumulative of the last season’s harvests.
According to an agent who sought anomity,they are even risking consfication of their personal property from financial institutions they borrowed from to facilatate the bulk buying of sorghum from farmers.”We took loans from various banks to buy the white sorghum from farmers since we saw the venture as any other investment,” said the dealer.
He told flash news that upon raising the issue with the company,the brewery blamed the current covid -19 pandemic which has almost paralyzed activities especially liquor consumption.”The company is using covid-19 as an excuse saying the closure of bars through the president’s directive has slowed down liquor consumption and thus the production has been halted making the company unable to buy additional sorghum,” he said.
The produce in the stores is also at verge of infestation by weevils since it has been bundled in congested stores. Other bags are stored outside the stores which are full to the brim thus exposing them to contamination.
Recently,Tharaka Nithi governor Muthomi Njuki hosted in the county, officials from the KBL where they discussed several ways on how to boost sorghum farming which would then boost the economy of entire county.
In his statement Njuki faulted an attempt by the national treasury to raise tax on the sorghum manufactured alcohol saying the move would deprive the farmers a source of income in the long-run.We have asked the treasury to have a comprehensive consultation on the consequences of tax increment on the sorghum made alcohol.As agricultural commitee in council of Governors we are againist the proposal since when implemented it will see farmers lose income,”Njuki said.
He went ahead to urge farmers from the county to grow more of the product since the company is dedicated in buying the produce from them. Also the county boss asked the company to consider setting up a production plant in the county where production of the raw materials is high compared to kisumu county where the industry is located.
Tharakanithi county alone has 17,000 farmers of the white sorghum out of 47,000 farmers countrywide,producing 8,058tonnes of sorghum annually. The farmers now want the company to make efforts of collecting the bundled bags lying in the stores before their condition worsens to an extent of being disposed off.They said if that will be the trend they might be forced to abandon the farming since it is not beneficial to them.