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Widows Turn Sorghum Beverage Processing into Thriving Business

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation defines Sorghum as a nutrient-rich cereal grain that is drought-tolerant and used for human consumption as well as livestock feed, alcoholic beverages, and biofuel production.

The grain that grows perfectly in parts of Kericho County has attracted the attention of a group of widows who are now leveraging the Potential of sorghum as a nutritional security through value addition.

Meet the Chamgaa Widows from the Kapsaos area in Kericho County, a dedicated and enterprising group of women banded together with a common goal of bettering their lives after their deceased husbands left them in abject poverty.

Speaking to KNA, Chamgaa Widows chairperson Mary Mitei intimates that the group that is formally registered started out as a table banking forum that helped the women access quick loans to fend for their families.

“We got registered formally in 2019 at the social services office after which we attended a training by the Ministry of Agriculture on Sorghum value addition, where we were taught various products using the grain,” added Mitei

The group members having acquired basic knowledge and skills decided to start processing sorghum beverage-making spice, with continuous guidance from the officers from the Ministry of Agriculture.

“We applied for Uwezo fund in order to start the project and we qualified for Sh100,000 which enabled us to roll out the project and pay back the loan. Now we are in the process of applying for a second loan from Uwezo fund which we believe will add an extra boost to us,” Mitei said.

She explained step by step the processing of Sorghum grain which involves roasting and milling of the grains to produce a spice that can be used to make unique beverages just like tea and coffee noting that it does not contain caffeine or nicotine, hence suitable for patients with diabetes and high blood pressure.

“From the training, we learned that Sorghum is a good source of protein carbohydrates, fiber, energy, iron, and potassium which are crucial nutrients for the body,” said Mitei

According to Mitei, the widows have also benefitted from entrepreneurial training they have received courtesy of the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) which has enabled them to operate the group professionally.

“MSEA has trained us on how to package, market, sell our products and also keep records of the sales which means now every woman in the group has a role to play to ensure the consistent success of the project,” said Mitei

Due to the gradual progress of the sorghum value addition project which is unique and profitable, Mitei mentioned that they have attracted the attention of other interested parties such as the Kenya Smart Climate Agriculture Project which donated to them a milling machine worth Sh 200,000.

Mitei also revealed that recently the group hosted a delegation from Central Kenya to learn about their Sorghum processing project which earns them at least Sh100,000 monthly from sales.

“We have been invited to various expos around the country and in Uganda where we showcased our project and we are happy that we were awarded certificates and even a trophy for our unique product,” Mitei said

Chamgaa Widows group now plans to expand their processing plant in order to produce a huge number of packed Sorghum beverages that could be distributed countrywide.

“With the intervention of the government through financial support, we will grow bigger since our product has health benefits, for now, we are looking forward to getting the Kenya Bureau of Standard (KEBS) mark of quality before we can roll out the project widely,” Mitei remarked.

They said the project had tremendously turned around their livelihoods and hoped for the best in the future as they strategise on the expansion of the project.

By Kibe Mburu

 

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