Namibia Breweries Limited is taking its barley project to the next level with the very ambitious target to grow 60,000 tonnes of barley annually within the next ten years. Going by the yields of the first two seasons, some 12,000 hectares under irrigation will be required.
Talking about the issues of investment and innovation, the Ohlthaver & List Group Director for Corporate Affairs, Gideon Shilongo, told a local television channel the proven demand for unmalted barley by Namibia Breweries, a subsidiary of the group, is 40,000 tonnes. However, the Breweries can absorb another 20,000 tonnes of unmalted barley for its new product, King Lager.
Bringing innovation into the equation, Shilongo said the barley pilot project which yielded 1200 tonnes from 400 hectares, provided them with a raw material, to little to go into their mainstream brewing operations, but still too valualbe to be used as animal fodder. This lead to the idea of brewing small quantities of unmalted beer using the local harvest. This beer is now marketted as King Lager.
If Namibia Breweries Limited can find the land to supply in their own barley requirements, it will create another 2500 jobs in agriculture. “For 2016 alone, Namibia Breweries has invested at least N$6.5 million in the barley project on 400 hectares of irrigated land made available in the AgriBusDev green scheme localities. To realize the dream of 60,000 tons and thousands of jobs, the project will need at least 12,000 hectares of irrigated land. However, this is a dream O&L is determined to achieve” said Shilongo.
The barley project was started in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Agricultural Business Development Agency (AgriBusDev) six years ago. Its initial aim was to test local conditions for barley, with the ultimate, long-term aim to grow all the barley Namibia Breweries needs, on Namibian soil.
Shilongo commented that the home-grown barley project is a perfect example of the level of breakthrough thinking and innovation required to carry Namibia through the [current] challenging time and grow the economy to the next level. With employment creation being the main motivation behind the home-grown barley project, a rippling effect of more creations were born from this initiative.”
“The birth of King Lager for example, was never planned” he said. However, this beer which is one of the latest additions to the Breweries beer portfolio, was the result of innovation which was initially born from an opportunity identified to create employment for Namibians.
A key element to build the economy and the nation is that of Public Private Partnerships without which the implementation of an initiative like the home-grown barley project would not have been possible. Eventually this partnership with the ministry and AgriBusDev led to the study, test, research and identification of specific ‘green-scheme’ localities where barley is now being grown and harvested. “It wasn’t necessarily a smooth process to get where we are today with this specific project, but we definitely would not have reached our current successes without the partnership with government” said Shilongo.
“Unemployment is a national issue that affects every Namibian, and it is only in a unified spirit of camaraderie and working together that we could potentially reverse the challenge of poverty. We need to be cognizant of the reality that government can not do this alone. The future of our country and its economy, as well as the well-being and upliftment of each and every Namibian is dependent on the level of input from each and every one of us, especially the investment into the local economy by the local private sector” he concluded.