FINANCE MINISTER PRAISES NEW ZAMBIAN BREWERIES CASSAVA PROCESS
System boosts cassava use in affordable Eagle Lager
NDOLA, ZAMBIA – Finance Minister Felix Mutati toured the Zambian Breweries processing plant in Ndola on Saturday (December 3) to inspect a new high-tech process that increases the amount of cassava in the company’s affordable Eagle Lager.
Zambian Breweries is supporting the growing of cassava by small scale farmers in Mansa District of Luapula Province. Cassava is used in the production of Eagle lager.
The introduction of the new technology will boost incomes for small-scale farmers. as well as improve the efficiency of production of the beer brand.
“This is a confluence of technology, tax policy and the farmer;, after touring the plant I am amazed at the investment in technology and the way that the Zambians are controlling the processes.. The confidence and the passion of the workers at Zambian Breweries has ,equally, amazed me. And more importantly is that 100 percent of the ingredients that you are using for brewing are local. So, this is industrialisation at the apex and we think that if we have these good examples such as Zambian Breweries, if others can emulate what you people are doing here, Zambia will move many steps ahead. So for me, you are combining agriculture with industrialisation but also attending to opportunities for that farmer who had lost hope in cassava, sorghum , barley, so you are a composition of a total solution which is what I called the Itawa springs solution,” said Mr Mutati, who toured the plant and heard first-hand from management about the new operations.
Zambian Breweries has invested heavily in technology and research to come up with the new production method, known as Simultaneous Saccharification and Fermentation (SSF). Previously Eagle Lager contained 60 per cent sorghum, 30 per cent sucrose, and 10 per cent cassava. However, with the introduction of the SSF technique has enabled the company to modify the recipe, which now consists of 60 per cent sorghum and 40 per cent cassava.
This new SSF technology has involved installing new equipment with a modified cassava intake system and a dynamic fermentation tank. The new production method will enable more cassava to be sourced from small-scale farmers.
Mr Mutati said that the government wanted to work with companies that bring development to the country: “Companies like Zambian Breweries are a demonstration that it’s good to pay tax and the level of tax is inducing growth. Our tax will remain stable so that you (Zambian Breweries) can continue to invest. K1.3 billion (revenue in tax) is not a small amount. We must put in perspective that we (government) need them (Zambian Breweries). Before cassava, sorghum was a bypass but now it is business. The farmer is understanding that agriculture is a business, our farmers are benefiting, I have been receiving calls from farmers in Mansa saying ‘that what Zambian Breweries is doing has surprised us, we are grateful’,” he said.
Mr Mutati called for the preservation of the Itawa confluence as government could not afford to risk K1.3 billion in taxes that it had received so far from Zambian Breweries. He also commended Zambian Breweries for creating jobs.
And Mr. Mutati said tax policy was very important. “See how tax has motivated investment. We are collecting a lot more because of consistency in taxation. We have been able to get K1.3 billion so far from only one company because of consistency. So, it tells you that consistency in tax policy is a driver for investment and a driver for jobs,” he said.
He said the backward effect was that Zambian Breweries could tell farmers to grow more because they shall buy all the produce because they are confident that the future is certain. Government is not going to shift in the goalpost and we have said the future of this country is consistency and we must remain predictable. Our role as government is policy stability and minimisation of regulation that is how we are going to grow the economy.”
Zambian Breweries managing director Annabelle Degroot said that Zambian Breweries wanted to see that the communities in which it is operating and sourcing produce are developed: “We can make our business to grow volumes and make profits but only if our people in communities’ benefit from the Eager Lager project we are carrying out. We don’t want to make money at the expense of the community. We want our business to prosper whilst the community prospers,” she said.
She said with the new state of the art equipment the company hopes to increase Eagle Lager production to about 200, 000 hectolitres in the coming year.
“Previously production was 50,000, this year it’s at 120,000 hectolitres, in the coming year we focus to 200,000 hectolitres. Our ambition and our dream for Eagle is actually for it to become as large as Mosi and Castle,” she said.
The Zambian Breweries Eagle Lager cassava project has shown great potential to make a significant contribution to rural farming in Mansa and the purchasing of the crop has provided a supply niche market for farmers to grow their farming.
Zambian Breweries has already started purchasing cassava from farmers through its agent GroAfrica, and the company plans to purchase over 4,000 tonnes of cassava flour from 12,000 tonnes of cassava root