Heineken backs sorghum farming
Sierra Leone project will increase cash to 2,000 farmers
Heineken is partnering in Sierra Leone with government agencies to improve the quality of sorghum produced by farmers in the country.
A new programme, Community Revenue Enhancement Through Agricultural Technology Extension (CREATE), is intended to raise farmers’ income from sorghum, thus alleviating poverty and contributing to the government’s food security programme. It aims to directly increase the cash income of at least 2,000 farmers and 12,000 farmer families in Sierra Leone.
Heineken’s operating unit, Sierra Leone Brewery Ltd (SLBL), will purchase part of the sorghum crop. The estimated requirement of 1,200 metric tonnes will reduce the brewer’s dependence on imported barley.
Over the last six years SLBL has been using, with the technical and financial support of Heineken and the Common Fund for Commodities, locally grown sorghum in the production process. To get continuous local supply has proven to be proved a struggle due to the low scale and lack of knowledge in growing sorghum as a commercial crop, hence the need for CREATE.
Heineken, via SLBL, has the overall responsibility for implementation of the CREATE project and has chosen the European Cooperative for Rural Development to execute the project. Also involved is the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute.
SBL managing director Willy Ngana said, “We are proud to be a leading party in the sorghum agricultural extension through the CREATE project. We want to be partners for growth in the communities in which we operate by buying more sorghum from our local communities to be used in our beverage production.”
Heineken and its European partner, the Sustainable Economic Development Department (DDE) within the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are backing the project with a US $2.5 million investment. The Dutch brewer is involved in similar local sourcing programmes for sorghum in Nigeria and Burundi; for barley in Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa; and for maize in Rwanda and rice in the Democratic Republic of Congo.