Ugandan beer producers partner with research institution NARO to enhance quality of locally sourced raw materials

UGANDA – Nile Breweries Limited (NBL), the Ugandan subsidiary of AB InBev has inked a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), aimed to boost commercial cassava production in the country.

The partnership seeks to address the need to improve the quality and quantity of cassava produced, whose demand is expected to increase as the brewer mulls on turning it into one of its major raw materials.

Theunis Coetzee, Agricultural Services Manager at NBL, revealed that they have decided to start beer production from cassava because of its numerous health advantages compared to other raw materials.

“Cassava contains much energy, natural sugars which can be used instead of adding sugar in the beer,” he added.

 Under the initiative, the beer company will support the transfer and dissemination of agricultural research and development technologies from NARO to the farming communities and value chains.

In the past years, cassava has been produced in the country specifically for food as well as distillation of ethanol and the partnership is expected to boost cassava production from 6 metric tonnes per hectare to 25 or 50 metric tonnes per hectare.

“Production of beer using local materials will lead to the creation of employment, low cost of production as well as increased production whereby in case we produce excess beers, we shall export the rest to our neighboring countries,” Dr. Ambrose Agona, the Director-General NARO said

Dr. Agona noted that this will not only promote industrialization but also increase farmer’s income since the cassava as raw material for beer has got an already established market.

Theunis furthered assured farmers that as soon as their team working with NARO has confirmed the best cassava brand suitable for beer production, they will engage farmers’ cooperatives, farmers’ Unions and other groups of to grow cassava on large scale for continued production.

“We shall supply certified cuttings/seeds to farmers who will grow cassava under close supervision of our team to ensure that they produce raw materials in the right quality and quantities. We shall not buy from everywhere else,” he added.

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Through this agreement, NARO and NBL will be complementing each other’s mandates to foster Uganda’s research and development capacity.

UBL, NARO enter deal to promote research in beer raw materials

In the same vein, the research organization has also signed an agreement with NBL’s competitor, Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), to promote research and development collaboration, linkages and partnership for purposes of advancing agricultural productivity under UBL’s Local Raw Materials Program.

Local Raw Materials Program is a UBL program that seeks to source 100% of the materials they use in their production processes local and has been developed in line with the second objective of the third National Development Plan (NDP III) meant to strengthen the private sector to create jobs and the overall theme of “Sustainable Industrialization for inclusive growth, employment and sustainable wealth creation.”

“UBL is now making 96% of its brands locally. The brewery works with over 20,000 farmers, directly benefiting over 25,000 households countrywide and invests over Ush 45 billion (US$12m) in farming communities annually,” UBL Managing Director, Alvin Mbugua said

According to officials, the five-year partnership will engage NARO to provide agricultural research and development support to UBL through the former’s constituent public agricultural research institutes earmarked to provide opportunities for conducting laboratory and field research trials.

The deal will as well provide agricultural research and development technical support to boost the development of the beer company’s local raw material program.

The beer company will utilize NARO-owned agricultural technologies in their local sourcing programs to boost productivity, improve household income and promote the Buy Uganda Build Uganda initiative at the agricultural sourcing level.

According to the MOU, part of this engagement will seek to support scientists, post-doc students to jointly plan and execute research projects and training through UBL’s scholarship program that both parties find important in advancing research under UBL’s raw materials program.

The two entities will exchange information, technology, and practices that increase agricultural production and productivity, publish well-researched data and manuals for farmer training that will be used for skilling growers and improving knowledge among UBL’s farmers in best agronomic practices.

They will also jointly develop effective sorghum, barley, and cassava seed production and distribution systems for enhancing sustainable access of smallholder farmers access to quality planting materials among other things.

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