By Itohan Abara-Laserian
The Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc has said that it was making plans to increase sourcing of raw materials like sorghum, Food Grade Starch and others locally from 57 to 60 per cent by 2020.
Mr Patrick Olowookere, Corperate Communications and Brand Public Relations Manager, made the disclosure to newsmen during a facility tour in Ado Awaiye in Iseyin area of Oyo State on Wednesday.
Olowookere said the company was always looking at ways to partner with local farmers and processors to develop agricultural value chains that would strengthen the economy and save foreign exchange.
According to him, through these partnerships, many farmers have been impacted, especially through its out-grower schemes in sorghum production.
He said: “Over 250,000 sorghum farmers have benefited in the northern agronomical zones as at 2013, producing over the 100,000 tons the company needs annually.
“That is enough to meet our production for our growing customers. We want to try as much as we can to further reduced the volume of imported of raw materials.
“By 2020, Nigerian Breweries would have finalised plans to increase its sourcing of raw materials from 57 to 60 per cent, the margin is small but apt.
“Psaltry International Company Ltd) a Food Grade Starch producing firm and others in sorghum is what gives us the assurance of quality products to suit the needs of our consumers,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports Olowookere as saying that the firm uses CSRO 1 and 2 species of sorghum because it had a higher yield of two tons per hectare and had certifications from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and a Rural Development.
Olowookere also said that Psaltry Company was the only partner producing Food Grade Starch for Nigerian Breweries.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the processing plant, Mrs Yemisi Iranloye, said that the distance of transporting harvested cassava to cities like Lagos and Akure prompted the location of the plant.
Iranloye said that the company now satisfied farmers who were treated as agents in the business through trainings, provision of hybrid cassava stems, fertilisers, pesticides and others.
“What really steered my coming to this community was the fact that having had experiences in the system, I understood the huddles farmers had to go through to transport their produce to urban cities.
“Most of the time, the cassava would have gone bad and farmers would be at a loss because the companies will not pay them, now we have been able to solve that problem.
“Currently, NB is one of our major client off-taking 60 per cent of our Food Grade Starch used as binding agents in producing most beverages, foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
“Farmers in the community have been empowered over the years to increase production to 500 hectares through the Credit Agricultural Scheme of the Centrl Bank of Nigeria (CBN) driven by us, and in the first year remitted 95 per cent.
“Through these, we are always in production even when the country had challenges in availability of cassava recently, we had supplies to service our customers like NB,’’ she said.
NAN reports that the plant has an installed capacity of 50 tons of processed starch daily and it is currently producing below capacity of between 20 to 30 tons daily.
The company also recorded that it saved 4 million dollars as import substitution in 2015.