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Sowing the seeds of sustainability in Kenya

Barley is an important ingredient for Diageo brands like Guinness and Tusker. Recent work at East Africa Maltings Ltd (EAML) has created jobs, improved barley farming, and made a difference to local communities

Sowing the seeds of sustainability in Kenya

We are working hard with our barley farmers in Kenya to protect a crucial part of our supply chain and to help them to share best practice and resources. EAML has been working with partners including Moi University, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Cereal Growers Association to improve our operations and conduct research into barley production.

Our work has included research into breeding better varieties, which would be resistant to common barley disease and result in superior brewing. We carried out a pesticide evaluation in the major barley growing areas of Timau, Moiben, Njoro and Mau Escarpment; soil analysis to determine any deficiency in nutrients; improvements to tillage techniques, which reduce costs for farmers; and a herbicide evaluation. We also run an extension support service for farmers, ensuring that any problems are attended to promptly and any new research is passed on to them, from crop monitoring to land preparation and soil sampling.

Commercial and community benefits

The multiplier effect of this programme is already having an impact on the local economy. Through contract farming, there are now over 100,000 people working in the barley industry including farmers, farm inputs suppliers, contractors and transporters.

The barley financing scheme lends more than 500 million Kenyan shillings (£3.583 million) to farmers annually at a negotiated low-interest rate. We now have a crop insurance scheme that protects both the financing institution and the farmers in case of crop failure due to adverse weather. The farmers are paid directly into their bank accounts through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) – in total more than over 1.3 billion Kenyan shillings annually (£9.317 million) has been provided. EAML continues to fund barley research in Kenya and this has seen the yields increase from 1 metric tonne/hectare in the 1970s to over 5 today.

The benefits of the barley programme have also rippled into the local community, with the provision of hospital beds for Molo, upgrades to the Olchoro health centre, trees planted in Mau Narok, and several roads repaired.