By Ben Leshau
A leading brewery company in the country targeting over 50,000 tons of barley from farmers across the country by the end of 2020 as it unveils two high-yielding varieties.
East Africa Maltings Limited(EAML),a subsidiary company of the East African Breweries Limited(EABL)has launched two barley varieties;Aliciana and Grace which are projected to boost farmer’s produced by over 10 percent.
The EAML General Manager Lawrence Maina who spoke at Purko Trust farm in Narok North during the launch of the two varieties said the two varieties had undergone numerous trails and proven to be the best for farmers in the country.
“These two varieties are rich in starch,resistant to logging/falling due to short height and has a yield of between 10 to 15 percent than the previous varieties,”said Mr Maina.
He said the two varieties are unique in that the grains fill up to the top as opposed to the previous varieties that has a lot of greening thus boosting production.
Currently,he said grace was the most preferred variety with over 80 percent while the Grace type is at 20 percent.
Mr Maina also revealed that the company releases new variety to farmers after every three years and so far over 40 varieties of barley have been grown by farmers in Narok,Nakuru,Uasin Gishu and Laikipia counties.
The barley farmers present during the event could not hide their excitement over the new varieties terming the move as a milestone.
Barley Growers Association of Kenya(Bagak)officials led by its Chairman David Kilesi and Secretary Joseph ole Mpaaira hailedthe EAML for the new products saying the old varieties had dwindled in yields pushing farmers to heavy losses.
“I have been doing barley farming since 1972 and I have witnessed the evolution of the crop’s varieties over the years.These new varieties are the best and can give us up to 18 to 20 bags per acre than the previous ones that could give us as low as 12 bags per acre,”said Mr Kilesi.
Mr Kilesi who is the founder members of the barley growers association revealed that over 85 percent of the farmers in the high altitude Mau Narok area depend on barley as key cash crop and source of livelihood.
The barley farmers however cited challenges such as invasive rye and bloom grass which they said was posing a threat to the barley crop.
The EAML Manager also warned farmers against using uncertified barley seeds on their farms to boost quality of the produce.
“Farmers should register with us so that we issue them with certified seeds.We have seen some farmers growing some strange varieties while some using local seeds.These habits affect the quality of the malt and the brewer will reject it,”cautioned Mr Maina.