Gadam Sorghum Commercialization Through A Public Private Partnership Initiative In Semi-Arid Eastern Kenya: Lessons Learnt PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 03 August 2011 04:25

Kavoi, J1*., Wafula, J1

1 KARI Katumani, P.O. Box 340 – 90100, Machakos, Kenya

* Corresponding author; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Lower semi-arid Eastern Kenya region is characterized by erratic and poorly distributed rainfall resulting in frequent crop failure, food insecurity and low household income. Development and validation of agricultural research outputs has been done, but with minimal uptake by intermediaries and producers. Apparently, weak internal and external linkages across different stakeholders exist. For years, the region has been a candidate for famine relief in form of maize and beans as the main relief food and seed, albeit the prevailing climatic conditions in the region that suit sorghum cultivation. This has had its own resultant effects on diet preferences with reduced sorghum consumption among the smallholder farmers in the region (Kavoi, 2003; Kavoi and Sutherland, 2005). Previous studies have shown that, Public-Private-Partnership (P-P-P) initiatives offer potentially important opportunities for pro-poor agricultural research in developing countries. Compared with maize, sorghum production needs less inputs, hence the great potential as a food security crop in lower semi-arid Eastern Kenya. Although several improved sorghum varieties have been developed and validated, sorghum production and utilization has remained low in the region. Farmers tend to put minimal resources to increase its production. Gadam, an improved sorghum variety, is early maturing, cream-white grain, high yielding and good for malting. The price of sorghum grain in the semi-arid lands (SALs) has over the years oscillated between KShs.3 and 5/= per Kg, adversely affecting farmers’ morale to increase sorghum production. Thus, due to lack of readily available market and low sorghum prices created a gap in commercial sorghum production in the region.

Grain buyers analysis carried out in 2008 showed that East African Breweries Limited (EABL) uses 100 million Kg of barley annually. Consequently, grain content analysis was done on barley and available improved sorghum varieties, revealing that gadam sorghum contain higher fermentable starch than barley, hence the choice for gadam promotion for commercialization in semi-arid Eastern Kenya. In late 2009, a P-P-P venture involving several partners was initiated to undertake gadam commercialization in the region for increased food security and household income. A study was carried out to establish the performance of the P-P-P, challenges faced and lessons learnt during and after the P-P-P’s first two years of operations. The P-P-P initiative covered a wide area, hence the use of a purposively selected sample of 135 respondents (34M: 101F) was used. A pre-tested check-list was used to collect data on age, gender, education level and number of family member living and contributing directly to farm labour were collected. In addition, information on farmers’ perceptions on the performance of the P-P-P was collected. Ms-Excel and SPSS software packages were used for data entry and analysis. As noted in previous studies, the active age category (31-50 years) comprised 75% of the respondents. This, however, seemed to contribute little in terms of increased sorghum production in the region. Quality gadam production seemed not to offer a challenge to growers, possibly due to the language used in stakeholders and farmer training workshops. Nevertheless, gadam grain tonnage from the region has not increased as anticipated, possibly due to unpredictable vagaries of nature. The P-P-P implementation model (Fig. 2) is viable and can be used by other institutions. This is evidenced by the outcomes it brought about, namely (i) increased sorghum production and delivery from the region; (ii) sorghum farmers linked to market, and (iii) strong P-P-P linkages established. A ready market, however, may not necessarily trigger and sustain mass production of a particular farm produce. It is recommended that a late adoption study on the P-P-P initiative’s performance be carried out in order to draw conclusive recommendations.

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