By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a bid to bolster Sierra Leone’s Local Content Policy and contribute to economic development, the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL) has engaged with the media to highlight its commitment to promoting local sourcing of sorghum, a vital ingredient in the production of various beverages including beer and Maltina.
The Brewery’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Foday Daboh, emphasized the company’s dedication to encouraging commercial farmers across the nation to cultivate sorghum varieties that align with SLBL’s requirements. The initiative aims not only to ensure a reliable supply of sorghum but also to empower farmers, create employment opportunities, and enhance the overall quality of the brewing process.
During a media roundtable event held at the SLBL headquarters in Wellington, it was revealed that the Brewery’s local sourcing campaign is designed to boost farmers’ income and improve agricultural yields. This is achieved through the provision of training and support to farmers, including the distribution of preferred sorghum seeds and practical guidance on implementing effective agronomic practices. These efforts are expected to result in increased production quantities and improved product quality.
SLBL’s engagement with the media also highlighted the company’s commitment to promoting youth and women involvement in sorghum cultivation. The Brewery recognizes sorghum farming as a sustainable source of livelihood and a means to contribute to the nation’s development.
To fulfill their objectives, SLBL successfully executed the Pre-Planting Sorghum Cultivation and Awareness Campaign across multiple districts in Sierra Leone. Through this campaign, the Brewery distributed free sorghum seeds to farmers, encouraging them to integrate sorghum cultivation into their existing agricultural practices. By boosting sorghum production at the grassroots level, SLBL aims to reduce the need for costly imports from abroad, thereby supporting the local economy and enhancing Sierra Leone’s self-reliance.
Despite the involvement of approximately 5,000 farmers in sorghum production, the current output falls short of SLBL’s production demands. To bridge this gap, the Brewery has been importing sorghum from Europe, incurring higher costs. In a bid to shift the balance toward local sourcing, SLBL is urging domestic farmers to increase their production efforts. The Brewery is offering incentives and a guaranteed market for their produce, facilitating a mutually beneficial relationship.
Foday Daboh emphasized that SLBL’s support extends beyond mere seed distribution. The company provides transportation, expert agronomists, and advance payments to contracted farmers. This comprehensive approach aims to ensure the success of local sorghum cultivation while strengthening the partnership between SLBL and the farming community.
The Brewery also demonstrated its commitment to sustainable practices by ensuring responsible management of sorghum waste. The waste generated during the brewing process is repurposed as fertilizer or pig feed, with SLBL returning the waste to the farmers. To further incentivize farmers, the purchase price of sorghum has been increased from NLe300 to NLe350 per 50kg bag, making it a more lucrative endeavor for local producers.
In a related development, SLBL, with the backing of the Heineken Africa Foundation, launched two community development projects in Wellington and Calaba Town. These projects, valued at €70,585 and €89,589.5 respectively, focus on water supply and sanitation infrastructure. The Managing Director of SLBL, Laurent Bukasa, highlighted the importance of clean water for health and well-being and urged residents to take ownership of these projects to ensure their success and responsible implementation.