Farmers record bumper harvest of sorghum
As famine continue to ravage several parts of the country, a group of farmers in Mbeere North, Embu County are counting their blessings after recording bumper harvest of sorghum.
The over 1, 000 farmers were enrolled in a Kenya Cereals Enhancement Programme by the area Agriculture department to move away from traditional farming of maize and beans.
The farmers from Muringari location say they were used to planting traditional crops but after reports that the December rains would be low, they opted to plant Gadam sorghum variety that thrives with low rainfall.
One of the farmers, Stanley Nyaga, has harvested 10 bags of sorghum and expects that after threshing, they would be converted to five 90kg bags.
He intercropped the sorghum with green grams that also thrive in low rainfall areas, but only harvested one 90kg bag.
His neighbour opted to plant maize and beans, but the crops failed and his only hope is relief food that the government has started distributing to the needy.
A bag of sorghum is retailing at Sh10, 000 in nearby markets and Nyaga is planning to sell so as to buy the much coveted maize and beans.
Douglas Muchiri was also enrolled in the pilot project and just like Nyaga, he harvested 20 bags of sorghum and he says he would sell some bags to take him through to the next rains.
“We are fortunate to have embraced the programme because at least we will harvest something. Other farmers in the region are in need of relief food but not us. We will also spare some and grind to flour to use in making porridge,” he said.
According to Embu County Agriculture Executive Patrisio Njiru, Gadam sorghum variety thrives well in low rainfall areas and takes only two months to mature and harvest unlike other varieties that go for around six months.
He says the market for the produce is ready since beer manufacturers have promised to buy the produce from the farmers.
“The variety is making a comeback during seasons of low rainfall since farmers are assured of harvests. Also beer manufacturers are moving towards the use of sorghum instead of barley therefore proving a ready market for the produce,” he says.
He says they plan to extend the programme to include more farmers so as to enhance food security in the region.
Through the programme, farmers are given a loan to specifically buy certified seeds and chemicals provided they pay it after selling the produce.
By Muoki Charles