How Farmers Living With Disabilities Are Contributing To Kenya’s Beer Economy
Two years ago, KBL and Sightsavers launched a pilot program in Homa Bay county aimed at onboarding farmers with disabilities into the sorghum value chain. This was through mobilization of persons with disabilities, inclusive recruitment, and ensuring compliance with applicable laws.
Jeniffer is one of 39 farmers with disabilities in Homa Bay who formed a registered group and started growing sorghum, a key ingredient in beer. They sell their produce to East African Breweries Ltd, which has been working to make its supply chain inclusive of people with disabilities.
Before venturing into the sorghum business, the 39Year old was a maize farmer which she says did not earn her enough to feed her family. Together with other farmers living with disabilities, the brewery in conjunction with other stakeholders trained the individuals on how to plant the seed and farm until harvest. The initiative has since seen many residents from the west side of Kenya earn a living and contribute largely to Kenya’s beer economy.
The pilot programme equipped 71 farmers with disabilities with the skills and resources to grow and supply sorghum, with a total of 76.5 acres put under cultivation for use in the production of Senator Keg beer. The programme is now in its second phase under the Global Labour Program – Inclusive Futures.
Formally launched in March 2022, the programme is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and brings together eight Kenyan and global organizations, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, and organizations of people with disabilities (OPDs) to work with KBL.
This is a five-year programme that will impact more than 705 farmers with disabilities across eight sub-counties in western Kenya and later one county in eastern Kenya. It aims to not only improve inclusion and labour rights for people who are often marginalized but for everyone working across the supply and distribution chains.
Representing Inclusive Futures, the Sightsavers Country Director Moses Chege said, “Partnerships are vital for driving forward the inclusion of all people – both within Kenya and globally. We are particularly excited about the working relationship we have built with KBL over the years in their quest to empower persons with disabilities and create an inclusive society.”
The partnership is aimed at demonstrating how to improve the employment of persons with disabilities as well as emphasizing the need to strengthen labour rights for everyone.
“As a person with disabilities in Kenya, I am excited for the opportunity to earn a decent living and prove that we can contribute to Kenya’s economy. Courtesy of this programme, I have been able to pay for my children’s school fees and carry out some development projects in my home. Things that were initially difficult and stressful are now possible. I’m a living testimony that I did it and I succeeded.” Said Paul Omullo, a sorghum farmer from Rangwe in Homabay County.