Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Red Stripe engages farmers to double cassava production

Published:Wednesday | September 14, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Ricardo Nuncio, managing director for Red Stripe, makes a point as Local Raw Material Business Development lead for Red Stripe Cavelle Rhiney Francis; Roshane Williams, farmer from the Bernard Lodge community; Nickiesha Reid, farm manager for Red Stripe; and Michael Powell, farmer from Ebony Park Farm, Clarendon listen.

To expand the use of local raw materials in production, Red Stripe has engaged 34 independent farmers and one farmers' cooperative to grow cassava for the brewing of its iconic beer.

This will bring an additional 515 acres of land under cassava production, which will increase the total acreage under cultivation in 2016 to 1,000 acres.

The first group of farmers, who will be contracted under the company's Project Grow Outgrower Programme, met with Red Stripe officials last Thursday at its Spanish Town Road plant for a full briefing.

"We are very pleased by the response of the farmers. Their enthusiasm and commitment today will help us to achieve our goal of 1,000 acres of land under cassava production by the end of the year," said Red Stripe's Managing Director Ricardo Nuncio.

Under the contracts, the farmers will grow cassava based on set targets and standards, then sell to Red Stripe at agreed prices. Company officials provided details, which included production goals as well as guidelines to ensure quality requirements are met from farm to factory.

Farmers were selected based on a set of criteria, including, their willingness to invest in the enterprise, farming experience and access to water.

AWESOME OUTCOMES

In his presentation to the newly engaged farmers, Nuncio pointed to the repatriation of beer production for the US market and the resulting need for more beer to deliver that demand.

"More volumes mean that we will have to accelerate cassava production, and that is where you come in. This is all part of our overall strategy to position Red Stripe as a key global player and produce awesome outcomes for everyone involved," said Nuncio.

The company expects the Project Grow Outgrower Programme to ultimately increase cassava production to some 4,000 acres over a five-year period. Approximately 1,400 stakeholders, primarily farmers and youth, are expected to benefit from direct and indirect employment, with indirect benefits for another estimated 3,700 people.

"As a farmer, it's good to see opportunities like these for young farmers wanting to get into the business of cassava production," said Roshane Williams, a young farmer from Bernard Lodge in St Catherine.

Red Stripe currently manages its own cassava farms with just under 400 acres of land under production at Bernard Lodge and Wallen in St Catherine, and at Spring Plains in Clarendon. The company has so far trained and employed 70 young people who work on the farms, which represents one aspect of its local raw materials initiative, Project Grow. Under the initiative, the company uses cassava as a substitute for imported ingredients used in the brewing of the world-renowned Red Stripe Beer. The company aims to increase the cassava component to 40 per cent by the year 2019.