Peter Nade, a Tanzanian farmer and father of six, was growing a single crop of maize on a small piece of land. It was insufficient to sustain his and his family's needs, but today Peter manages a 200 acre farm having equipped himself with the tools, skills and financial resources to grow barley thanks to the support of our team in Tanzania.
He's not the only grower to profit from our Tanzanian barley farming program. Elsewhere, Nainoto Maliaki has been able to afford a more comfortable home and better education for her four children, having started barley farming as a means of earning regular income after being widowed. And transitioning to barley growing has enabled Onesmo Kway to better provide for his six children, giving him the means to build a new, modern house in his village.
These stories are being replicated across Africa, thanks to our team's initiative, called Go Farming. The program's objectives are threefold: to improve livelihoods for smallholders, drive economic growth and establish sustainable local supply chains for our African breweries.
Go Farming doesn't just encompass malting barley. In countries where local conditions are better suited to indigenous crops, it has also been successfully applied to sorghum and cassava, with maize set to be involved in future. Forecasts for the period between 2015 and 2020, show a 44% growth in the number of farming families in 10 countries* covered by Go Farming.
In the same timescale, farming tonnage in these 10 countries is forecast to increase from under 300,000 tons to more than 600,000 tons.
The benefits this brings to our African businesses are significant. Using locally sourced crops means less risk of supply chain disruption, while also avoiding exposure to currency volatility. In addition, the economic boost given to rural communities has been recognized at government level, with several countries (including Mozambique, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda) cutting rates of excise duty on beers made with locally-sourced ingredients. This in turn allows them to be priced more attractively for our consumers.
But it's within the farming communities themselves where the most visible evidence of Go Farming's win:win ethos can be found. The Tanzanian farmers are all proud of their barley expertise and modern farming practices, which have enabled them to produce more from their land and leave the subsistence cycle behind. It demonstrates how we can make a difference in the communities where we operate while at the same time growing the potential markets for our beers.
* Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
A version of this story first appeared on SABMiller.com on 29 March 2016