The future of Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL)’s home-grown barley project looks bright, says project manager, Martin Krafft.
In a statement released this week, NBL said for the year to date, 377 hectares have been put under barley (257 hectares at Ndonga Linena – 90km east of Rundu and 120 hectares at Shadikongoro – 200 km east of Rundu), adding that the project expects to harvest about 1 800 tonnes of raw barley by the end of November 2016.
This year, Government availed 380 ha of existing irrigation land to the project for growing barley under irrigation, as part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, government’s Agriculture Business Development (AgriBusDev) – managing and coordinating the green schemes – and NBL.
Krafft said: “2016 is the first year of the 10-year Barley Industry Development Plan (BIDP), which is governed by the MoU and the acting technical committee, thus far proving to be a successful public-private-partnership (PPP).”
Due to the good collaboration between AgriBusDev (Petrus Uugwanga), the farm managers of Shadikongoro (Danie Marais) and Ndonga Linena Agricultural Project (Titus Andreas) as well as the O&L internal expertise of Floris Smith, Krafft remains confident about the future of home-grown barley.
Krafft added: “This is a very positive project kick-off. Hopes are high that the barley planted results in a good quality harvest for NBL and decent returns for AgriBusDev as well as the small-scale farmers involved. This would allow us to plant more barley next year. Provided we achieve product quality and yield requirements, we aim for a year-on-year increase of +- 1 500 hectares of barley planted per annum.”
According to Krafft, the goal is to gradually replace the import of about 40 000 tonnes of malted barley.
“NBL intends to source all raw barley locally. This, however, requires investing in a local malting plant, which seems to be feasible when the project reaches the benchmark of harvesting 15 000 tonnes of local raw barley per year,” he said.
With NBL targeting to harvest 12 000 hectares of raw barley over the next 10 years, this will change the scope of beer brewing in Namibia seeing that NBL has been importing malted barley as a key ingredient for most of its current beer brands.
NBL Managing Director, Wessie van der Westhuizen said: “This project is inspired by the O&L Group purpose of ‘Creating a future, enhancing life’ for all Namibians, and our commitment to breakthrough thinking, which is aimed at creating opportunities for growth at home and strengthening the Namibian economy, for better livelihoods for all Namibians. NBL initiated and invested into barley trials in 2010 with the intent of establishing a local barley industry that would create jobs and support the local economy.”
Van der Westhuizen further indicated that growing barley locally will support the local agricultural sector in rural areas, which is something we are just as passionate about as making good beer.
“We believe that a Namibian dollar spent in Namibia rather than elsewhere is a dollar spent towards bettering the lives of Namibians and we are therefore committed to doing everything we can to procure locally whenever possible.
I sincerely want to thank Government for supporting us in bringing this dream to life. Thanks to the PPP, we are on our way to develop a large-scale Namibian barley industry that will further complement government’s Vision 2030 and ‘Growth at Home’ Strategy.
This initiative creates a local barley supply chain in Namibia that benefits each member of the chain, as well as the government and the community as a whole,” he said.
Since the commencement of the barley trials, NBL revealed that it has so far invested more than N$5.5 million into the barley project for trial planning, execution, seed, laboratory and brewing trials, as well as shipment and transport.