Namibia on course to grow own barley
Windhoek – Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL), which brews one of Namibia’s well-known exports, Windhoek Lager, is intensifying plans to grow barley locally.
Barley is a major ingredient in beer making and currently, the company imports all it.
NBL, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, started the project to grow barley in Namibia two years ago.
The first results were made public last week and were described as very positive.
Sven Thieme, the executive chairperson of Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies, the parent company of NBL said the company hopes to reduce dependency on imported barley through the project.<br /> Thieme said the company imports about 40 000 tonnes of malted barley imported every year.
If the plan by the NBL and the agriculture ministry succeed, local producers will need 12 000 hectares of irrigated land and an investment of N$615 million.
“The tests which we have done on growing barley in Namibia have been extremely positive. Should this dream further materialise, for which the chances are good, we will then be able to fulfil further dreams.
“For example, we would be able to cultivate 12 000 hectares where we could grow barley in winter and promote further food production during summer.
“This will have an impact of generating up to 4 000 direct and indirect jobs, increasing the agricultural activity significantly and contributing to our GDP materially.
“We will be going through a larger scale test this year and will do a lot of further homework. So, we are very excited and will do everything possible to have this materialise,” he said.
The agriculture ministry is supporting the project because it believes that planting and harvesting barley locally significantly enhances crop productivity, because it is planted after the maize harvest.
The ministry says an investment into local barley crops is always also an investment into additional maize or wheat crops and revenue in the agricultural sector.
The results showed that it is feasible for the local medium to large-scale farmers and the government’s agricultural green schemes to grow barley.
In the initial project, barley was grown in Namibia’s north-eastern and southern regions, Kavango and Hardap respectively.
Thereafter, the barley was sent for malting to the German malting company, said Durst Malz, an expert partner on the project, confirming that the quality of the locally grown barley was indeed well suited for NBL’s Rheinheitsgebot beers.
Namibia Breweries is listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange and one of Namibia’s biggest private companies, Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies is the single largest investor in the company, with Diageo Plc and Heineken BV as the international partners.
Besides Windhoek Lager, the company’s brand portfolio includes leading brands such as Tafel Lager, Windhoek Draught and Windhoek Light. NBL is also the distributor of Diageo-owned ready-to-drink-beverages and ciders in Namibia. Currently, NBL exports 60 percent of its production to South Africa and 22 percent to other countries worldwide.