Sorghum stakeholders in Kenya have identified and mapped out key actors who will influence demand-driven commercialization of Striga resistant sorghum varieties currently being developed under the Feed the Future Striga Smart Sorghum for Africa (SSSfA) project. This happened during a sorghum value chain stakeholder net-mapping workshop held on April 4 – 5, 2023 in Nairobi.
Sorghum is a potential food security cereal. However, its production is highly devastated by the witch weed Striga causing 30-100 per cent yield losses. While sorghum production is constrained by the weed Striga, it emerged that we require important innovations in areas around mechanization for harvesting. Further, value addition is vital to promote diversified use of sorghum-based products as food and intensify the demand pull.
In her speech, Prof. Caroline Thoruwa, Kenyatta University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Innovation and Outreach emphasized on the need to explore climate smart innovations and technologies to increase sorghum competitiveness. She echoed the words of Nobel Prize winning biochemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi that ‘‘discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.’’
Defining and maintaining essential linkages among the sorghum value chain key players is vital to achieving the project’s goal. Initially, the private sector felt that it was not involved in the development of a flour blending policy, which was expected to contribute towards food security, improve nutrition and increase employment opportunities in Kenya through flour blending based on under-utilized high value foods. “The private sector is an important arm in the sorghum value chain with the potential drive demand for this cereal crop and its products,” said Paloma Fernandes, CEO, Cereal Millers Association.