Small-scale farmers keep SAB brewing

25 October 2010

Around 250 emerging farmers from Uthukela District Municipality in the northern Drakensberg are to supply South African Breweries (SAB) with yellow maize after the brewer entered a partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government.

Although SAB is in the business of making and selling alcoholic beverages, some of its products rely heavily on agricultural crops like yellow maize. SAB will buy 5 000 tons of maize from the farmers in the first year of the project, with the quantity gradually increasing over time.

At least 1 500 hectares of high potential land has been identified in the Okhahlamba, Indaka, Imbabazane and Umtshezi local municipalities. Maize production potential for these areas is estimated at between four and six tonnes per hectare.

“Now our farmers will supply the much needed tons of yellow maize to the SAB processing plant in Johannesburg,” KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development MEC Lydia Johnson said at the launch of the partnership in Bergville recently.

She said the department had been consistently encouraging and supporting emerging farmers to advance their skills and to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset.

“South African Breweries approached us just at the right time,” Johnson said. “This is a milestone for our emerging black farmers in the province.”

Agriculture support programme

The department is helping local farmers through its Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme and Mechanisation Support Programme to participate in the newly identified market.

The department has made a pool of 18 tractors with implements available to provide a comprehensive mechanisation service to the district. The tractors will remain in the care of the department and will be used by the farmers at no cost through a booking system.

“We have a responsibility to support emerging farmers, to ensure that they develop to their full potential and become fully fledged entrepreneurs,” said Johnson. “The issue of sourcing out markets once the food has been produced is a challenge we are now addressing.”

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews

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