At Triple Pundit, we imbibe in beer once in a while, and give credit to beverage companies that spur economic development and work to reduce water consumption. As the global craving for beer surges, companies are also scrambling to engage smaller and local farmers into their supply chains.
The giant brewer SABMiller is one company that is working with local farmers while adding local flavor to its portfolio of beers. Last month in Mozambique, a local SABMiller subsidiary, Cervejas de Moçambique (CDM), launched what the company says is the first ever commercial scale beer based on cassava (known as yuca or manioc in other regions).
For SABMiller, the rollout of a beer based on a common staple is a pragmatic move to brew beers that are affordable in local markets. But for farmers in this southeastern African nation, SABMiller’s promise to source ingredients locally (instead of importing wheat and barley from elsewhere) offers economic opportunity to farmers.
Cassava is often the starch of choice in various regions of Latin America and Africa because of its hardiness and bounty of nutrients. After harvest, however, its high water content leads it to degrade quickly. Working with a Dutch NGO, SABMiller will fine tune a distribution system that will source up to 40,000 tons of raw cassava annually from over 1500 small farms.
DADTCO has developed what it describes as a “autonomous mobile processing unit,” or AMPU, that is currently used in rural Nigeria. These easily movable cassava processing machines can quickly convert cassava roots into cassava cakes, which workers can then transport to a centrally located dryer that will mill them into flour.
Many farmers struggle to even sell an occasional bag of cassava once a week. More programs like that launched by SABMiller and DADTCO can elevate families from subsistence farming into reliable suppliers. To that end, SABMiller is also pairing with NGO, IFDC, which works with farmers to transfer best practices and boost yields. If this and other programs can scale, watch for more farmers in Africa to increase their incomes while the region boasts economic resilience, trends similar to the results of fair trade initiatives around the globe. With water stewardship a growing problem confronting companies and their suppliers, smarter farming can help feed, and occasionally and responsibly imbibe, a growing global population.
Photo courtesy of SABMiller’s media relations site.