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Cassava beer in Ghana: new beer, new opportunities

14 March 2013

Today we’re excited to announce the launch of our cassava beer, Eagle, in Ghana. It marks not just the launch of a new beer brand, but the opening up of new opportunities for business, consumers and Ghana’s smallholder farmers.

It is estimated that more than 70 percent of Ghanaian farms are 3 hectares or smaller in size and many of these grow cassava. However, there is currently an annual surplus of around 40%. Anyone with experience of cassava knows that it deteriorates rapidly once it has been uprooted from the ground. This makes it difficult to use in any large scale commercial application. We could have bought cassava starch from a commercial supplier, but instead we wanted to replicate the model used successfully by SABMiller with cassava and sorghum smallholders elsewhere in Africa; passing the benefits directly to the farmers. It is important for us to use cassava harvested by local farmers.

Enhancing market participation opportunities for these farmers will help them become viable small-scale commercial enterprises, not only growing crops to feed their families, but also being able to generate an income to buy other food and access healthcare and education. The introduction of a new, commercial market for cassava is an important step in achieving this in support of the Government’s efforts in this direction.  Furthermore, we want to ensure that we are not the farmer’s only customer;  by developing their agricultural expertise, and encouraging them to grow a variety of crops and develop other commercial relationships, we can make these initiatives are truly sustainable.

Ghana has already made significant progress against the Millenium Development Goal target for food security, which seeks to halve between 1990 and 2015 the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Much of this success has been due to strengthened public investment in agriculture and food production.

The private sector also has an important role to play - through investment, providing reliable markets and facilitating improved productivity. Agriculture is at the core of our brewing supply chain, and we are committed to helping farmers raise the productivity of both the crops they sell to us and the food crops that they grow.  ABL already buys maize and sorghum, via two intermediary agents, from around 1,500–2,000 farmers, equating to approximately 30–35% of their farming business. We hope that we will source cassava from up to 1,500 farmers over the next year. Cassava is vital for both food security and income generation, which is why it is important to support farmers to increase yields and incomes from their crop.

And the beer itself, Eagle, also provides an opportunity for low-income consumers. It will be sold at a 30% discount to mainstream lagers, offering an affordable, high-quality alternative to the informal or illicit alcohol that they might otherwise drink.

We are very proud of the role that we play in the Ghanaian economy – a study by Professor Ethan Kapstein of INSEAD found that Accra Brewery Limited and Voltic (GH) Limited (our water business) provide high-quality employment and its operations support at least 17,600 jobs throughout the economy. We hope that the introduction of Eagle will help us extend our positive socio-economic impact in the country by supporting more jobs, creating a new revenue pool for government and offering greater consumer choice.

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