A sustainable local barley supply is critical to our business model and to the livelihoods of thousands of South Africans.
We are proud that in South Africa, one of our top selling beers is Castle Lager, which is brewed using four home-grown ingredients – barley, hops, maize, and water. But local sourcing is not without challenges. South Africa is a water-stressed country ranked as the 30th driest in the world, with annual rainfall of about half the global average. The recent drought has placed agriculture under extreme pressure.
A sustainable local barley supply is critical to our business model and to the livelihoods of thousands of South Africans. Our Better Barley Better Beer programme provides farmers with the advice and support needed to implement sustainable farming practices. Along with guidelines for sustainable barley production we developed with WWF-SA, this is helping farmers to increase the resilience, productivity and economic value of their crop while reducing environmental impact.
Reducing water use is fundamental in the South African context. By using precision irrigation of barley, the amount of water used to grow malting barley has halved from 117mm to 58mm per tonne in two years, while also improving productivity.
We are sharing these lessons across Africa, where we are working to establish and grow local malting barley supply chains. In 2013, Tanzania Breweries began a yield improvement programme to find ways of improving farmer yields by training and providing farmers with the correct equipment. We have been impressed with the results. By 2015, participating farmers had increased their yields by 79% and we believe further improvement is well within reach.
Thinus van Schoor
Head: Agriculture and Maltings, SABMiller Africa