Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev) and agronomists and food scientists from the Stellenbosch University in South Africa’s Western Cape will partner on a R6 million research project on beer producing grains.
Dr Nikki Else, Research and Development Manager: Agriculture Africa at AB InBev, said projects on cassava and sorghum will help the company to better penetrate Africa’s beer market.
AB InBev will focus on countries like Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda, with research concentrating on new varieties which can adapt to climate change.
Research will also be done on barley – a staple ingredient used in beer production.
Else said the research tools investigated are in its first year at the university, with hopes to expand in future.
“It is very challenging to take research and make it applicable in practice.”
She said AB InBev aims to bridge the gap in terms of introducing new varieties with better yield and malting quality.
She also said in African countries, farmers don’t always take risks and stick to what they know.
“You can grow any crop anywhere, but we are looking at the value in terms of yield, disease resistance, malting quality, grain quality and uplifting people and the community. It needs to make a difference,” she said.
Else said it is difficult to determine whether grain is at risk, because you can’t see what is happening internally. There are also limits to the physical tests that can be done to determine if the barley will store well.
“Each variety is different and each farmer has an inherent understanding of their own land farm and how they are being treated, so at least they will have a pack,” she said.
There are also plans to expand out-grower schemes in South Africa in future.