Cassava beer by March

Red Stripe to build $90-m cassava processing plant by January

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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LOCAL brewing company Red Stripe will be establishing its US$800,000 ($90.4 million) starch processing plant by January 2015.

The facility will allow Red Stripe to make its flagship beer with at least five per cent cassava by next March.

Ultimately, the local brewer wants to replace 20 per cent of its imported barley with locally grown cassava.

The company has secured a lease contract for 250 acres of land at Wallen, St Catherine, that will bring its total farmland under production to 286 acres.

Around 2,500 acres are needed to meet its target.

Currently, the 36 acres at Bernard Lodge account for close to 700 metric tonnes
of cassava over a nine-month period.

"With Wallen, we will get another 100 hectares... so we are looking at over 6,000 metric tonnes by next year," project manager at Red Stripe, Damion Graham, told the Business Observer. "That will give us 100 per cent utilisation of the processing plant, as soon as we have all acres under cultivation."

Graham reckons that the company should have completed the planting and replanting of cassava at Wallen and Bernard Lodge by June next year.

A year ago, Red Stripe had said that it would start making cassava beer by September 2014. The reason for the delay was not explained.

The processing plant, which will be located at Red Stripe's headquarters, will consist of a 20-root-tonne facility of about 250 square metres in size.

This means that it can process the cassava yield from approximately 1.25 acres of land in a day, meeting the company's target of up to 300 acres per year, according to Graham.

The first phase of the production begins with a field test to determine the starch content and the adequacy for reaping, after cultivating the cassava for nine months.

"We will use a mechanical harvester to uproot the roots of the cassava, after which the stick portion will be cut off and the cassavas will be transported back to office," Graham said.

Once the cassavas reach the factory, they will be placed on a scale and placed in silos. From there, water and a mechanical agitator is used to start processing the cassava.

The roots will then go through a rasping (grating) after which a wet extraction will be done. This process involves the repeated washing of cassavas and putting them through a series of hydro sieve where the starch precipitates out of the product.

"The product is then continuously dried using a sieve and cyclone and then scraped and placed in a fluidised bed drier, which is a hot stream of dry air to dry the wet starch to a starch powder," Graham said.

The powder will then be used in the production of beer.

EBS Brazilia has been awarded the contract of supplying the company with the starch factory; however, the installation of the plant will be done by Red Stripe. The company expects to employ another 30 individuals to carry out operations at the plant.

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