SAB’s Hop Harvest hosts Minister of Agriculture

On Friday, March 3, 2023, the South African Breweries hosted the Minister of Agriculture and the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture to showcase the success achieved  on its hop farms – an essential ingredient in beer. Held in the George region of the Western Cape, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Dididza, said that SAB is a “critical enabler of agriculture and transformation in South Africa.”

As a proudly South African company, SAB procures 95% of all its ingredients from within our boarders, this also extends to the local procurement of raw materials and packaging. The Hop Harvest was a celebration of the natural, local, and inclusive properties of beer, by members of the government, farming community and visitors.

Minister Dididza, said, “SAB has been critical to the success of the economy and the industry exists to sustain many livelihoods across the value chain. It has also been successful in making inclusivity meaningful for its people. The company continues to find new ways to unlock value for their producers, and progression of this scale is admirable. This is especially so, considering that transformation in agriculture is not an overnight story. Like a seed, it takes time to grow, and companies must stay the course if they want to see long-term success. Congratulations to SAB for being a proudly South African company and making it possible for AB inBev and others to contribute meaningfully to our nation.”

Zoleka Lisa, VP Corporate Affairs at SAB added, “Standing in the middle of a farm it’s easy to forget the widespread economic impact that a hop harvest can have. The numbers speak for themselves, with 540 barley farmers supported each year, and R1.8 billion is spent on local barley procurement per annum. In the last five years, SAB has increased local barley production by more than 70% which is something we’re incredibly proud of. We are also looking at ways to increase our support of local farmers and strengthen the local supply chain.”

Commitment to growing farming capacity

According to Lisa, 95% of all the ingredients used to produce SAB beer, are grown and sourced locally, accentuating the brewery’s commitment to empowering the nation’s farmers.

“Our mission is to encourage a more inclusive beer sector, by empowering women and youth in agriculture. The value chain extends beyond simply beer, and to date SAB has supported 1120 Black emerging farmers, of which 500 are women,” explained Lisa.

Additionally, the brewery’s food security programme now extends to over 500 farmers, most of whom are women, who plant one hectare maize fields. The farms are mainly situated in the Free State and Eastern Cape where the goal is to enhance food security in rural areas.

Sustainable food production

To ensure sustainable crop production SAB introduced new crops such as canola, wheat, soya beans, sunflowers, and oats which farmers in the scheme produce in rotation with crops such as Barley and non-GMO maize funded by SAB. In 2021 SAB introduced its farmers in the Northwest and Free State to a new market and financier. These farmers now produce high oil content sunflowers for the manufacturing of famous household margarine brands such as Rama, Stork, and Rondo.

A citrus programme was introduced in 2022, whereby the Moletele community in Hoedspruit, Limpopo farm 20 hectares of limes. The first harvest is expected this year.

“We collaborate with a black-owned strategic agriculture development partner, FarmSol, and this has meant we have been able to expand beyond the development of SAB farmers. We also have an Agriculture Internship programme that fields students from across the country. It has been running successfully for the past five years and feeds into our talent acquisition within SAB,” said Lisa.