Sorghum: a sustainable growth story
Case study 11 JAN 2013
Local ingredients can make the best beer – and the best sense for the environment, for farmers, for communities, and for our business. A new partnership project to produce sorghum in East Africa could strengthen our supply chain and improve the livelihoods of our suppliers.
John Mwenda became a sorghum farmer three years ago. His first crop was planted on five acres of land – and he has found the business so successful that he now plants ten acres and employs ten people.
"I started with five acres, and I was able to get around 80 bags, which I would not be able to get in three months when I was in employment", Mr Mwenda said.
He is one of the beneficiaries of a project to increase sorghum cultivation run in partnership with the European Co-operative for Rural Development (EUCORD) in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Sorghum is more drought-resistant than other types of crop such as barley, and it offers a sustainable yield from otherwise unproductive land, especially in water-stressed areas. The project aims to provide small-scale farmers, particularly in dry and marginal regions, with the tools they need to produce more sorghum sustainably, using fewer natural resources. They get advice on new varieties and practices, access to seeds and credit, and better access to markets for their crops.
For us, the project builds on decades of experience with farmers growing barley to contract, and of partnerships with public and private institutions. Combined with innovative ways of making beer with the ingredient, we believe sorghum can strengthen the foundations of a sustainable brewing industry in East Africa for many years to come.