Creating equitable prosperity in Kenya through sorghum farming

Sorghum

Sorghum is used in many parts of the world today. In parts of Africa and Asia, Sorghum is used to make flatbreads. In the United States, sweet sorghum syrup is known as molasses.

With the demand for sorghum on the rise, farmers around the world have expanded their land by 66% to satisfy demand.

In Kenya, Smart Logistics Solutions Ltd. (SLS) is an agribusiness that is capitalizing on this burgeoning market, while also making social change at the community level in rural areas of the country.

Christine Mueni Katunge is a resident of Makueni County. She is a small-scale farmer that provides for her 5 children and 7 grandchildren. Her income pays for her grandchildren’s school fees.

Before she started farming sorghum, Christine farmed maize. However, she struggled to provide for her family because her crops were failing due to drought brought on by climate change. This forced Christine and her family to depend on food relief.

Two years ago, Christine was introduced to sorghum farming by MEDA and SLS. Christine was one of the first farmers to attend the joint trainings hosted by MEDA and SLS. In these workshops, she learned about contract farming, cultivation, harvesting, winnowing, packaging, transportation and payment systems.

Initially, Christine was doubtful of this new grain. But MEDA and SLS assured her that there was local and international demand for their produce. Christine and the other farmers involved in the training decided to cautiously begin with one acre of land.

While growing her sorghum, Christine continued to attend trainings by MEDA and SLS. After her trial succeeded, Christine entered into a contract with SLS to provide sorghum to their processing and packaging company.

“With the introduction of sorghum farming, my life has changed. I increased my land from 1 acre to 3 to accommodate the growing demand,” says Christine.

Christine is currently harvesting over 1,000 Kgs of sorghum per harvest, with each one-kilogram bag being bought at 30KES ($0.40CAD) by SLS. In total, Christine has seen her income increase to 32,400KES ($430 CAD) per harvest. Sorghum is grown two seasons a year and is harvested twice each season. That means that Christine can make upwards of 129,561KES ($1,720 CAD) a year.

Christine is now able to provide for her family and pay the school fees of her grandchildren and SLS is able to satisfy the ever-growing demand for sorghum around the world. By training Christine and other farmers in good agricultural practices when it comes to sorghum, SLS also receives good-quality produce that qualifies for international markets.

— Walter Tinega and Katie West

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  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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