This was recently revealed by Marguerite Cremin, Red Stripe’s head of corporate relations, who disclosed that they are working on establishing commercial agreements with several large and small Jamaican farmers to put 800 to 1,000 acres under cultivation with cassava and sorghum for the beer brew.
The initiative, being called ‘Project Grow’, follows a model established by Diageo for its breweries in Africa, whereby brew masters turned to cassava, sorghum and maize as cheap and reliable sources of raw materials compared to imported barley, in a bid to rationalise their supply chain.
Cremin described the project as a win-win situation for the company, domestic farmers and the economy, pointing out that many Jamaicans will become involved in producing raw materials for the local brewery.
“It will enable us to significantly reduce the cost of our raw materials while giving us greater control of this most critical input,” she said, adding that valuable foreign exchange will be saved and much needed employment created for Jamaicans. “Most importantly,” she said, “the project will sustain the agricultural sector in the country from which we draw strength and grow our business.”
Diageo launched a similar project in Ethiopa recently.The project will develop a scalable contract farming model that connects smallholder farmers with large, dependable, commercial markets in a mutually sustainable and rewarding manner, says Nick Blazquez, Diageo president of African breweries.
“It is in line with our commitment to generate shared value with the economies and communities in which we operate,” he said.
Piggy backing on Diageo’s success in Africa, where such projects are said to have the potential of supplying as much as 70 per cent of raw materials, Cremin said the Jamaica initiative will be on a phased basis.
“We are looking to replace 15 to 20 per cent of our raw materials by 2014 and 70 per cent by 2020,” she stated, noting that 7,000 acres of the crop will be required to cover that 20 per cent of raw materials and, “if you do the maths, we will need to develop 35,000 acres in order to produce 100 per cent of our raw material needs.”
Replicating the African model, in respect of the choice of crop to be used, Cremin said, “We are looking to use cassava and Sorghum, which are very suited for brewing our quality Red Stripe beer. We expect to utilise different varieties and strains of the crop; so we will cultivate the top five producing seeds from the 15 known,” she said, noting that that they are targeting the red, yellow and white coloured seeds.
Cremin said that while the Jamaican brewer will be learning from the experience of its counterparts in Africa, it “will bring all the relevant local farming associations into the mix to ensure the use of local expertise and the success of the project.”
In this regard she said the objectives of the local initiative are consistent with those of the parent company as expressed.
Article and photo courtesy Caribbean 360.com