Local Jamaican brewing company, Red Stripe, has said that it will invest us$10 million (J$1,124 Billion) over the next five years to set up a cassava supply chain, as it moves to use the tuber to offset barley imports utilized in beer production.
“It is not just about growing cassava, it’s about setting up a cassava supply chain. We have a big ambition for cassava and it is going to take a massive investment,” said Red Stripe’s Managing Director Cedric Blair.
Blair was addressing government officials, which included Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, following a tour of the Spanish Town Road facility Wednesday.
To date, the company has spent US$1.1 million on the first phase of its Project Grow initiative and is committing to invest even more over the next five years.
“Our preliminary numbers from our farmers is that under this pilot, we will produce about 70 tonnes per hectare. This means that we will produce more cassava on our pilot farm than the rest of Jamaica combined,” Blair said.
He said the company’s plan is to get to 2,500 acres within the next three to five years and to employ one person per acre.
He informed that the company also plans to train an additional 39 Jamaicans to work on its cassava farms as well as invest a further US$800,000 to equip a cassava factory for processing activities.
“The processing plant will be up and running by January 2015 and we will be reaping cassava in February, and so, we will be making beer from locally grown cassava starting February of next year,” he informed.