Millions in funding from IDB for Red Stripe’s Project Grow

Thursday, November 03, 2016

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Red Stripe's local raw materials sourcing initiative Project Grow has received a major endorsement from the Inter-American Development (IDB) in the form of a US$814,417 grant funding.

IDB President Luis Moreno signed a technical cooperation agreement with Chairman of the Desnoes and Geddes Foundation Noel daCosta in Montego Bay on Monday.

“We want to congratulate Red Stripe for the initiative which is providing employment and reducing Jamaica’s import bill,” said Moreno.

Under the agreement, the IDB will fund training for 1000 young people in cassava crop production as part of Project Grow, which is seeking to create a network of 200 small and medium farms.

The company’s ultimate objective is to have year-round suppliers of cassava, which will be industrially processed for use in the brewing of its iconic Red Stripe beer.

Monday’s signing was followed by a tour of the beer company’s cassava farm in Bernard Lodge, St Catherine where board members of the IDB got a first-hand look at the cultivation.

The IDB delegation also got a chance to tour the company’s Cassava Starch Processing Plant at its Spanish Town Road brewery in Kingston.

The technical agreement runs to 2018 and will see the Desnoes and Geddes Foundation investing US$4.01 million.

Major growth targets to create jobs

Project Grow is expected to become a local sourcing supply chain model to substitute imported high maltose corn syrup (HMCS) with locally produced cassava starch in the brewing process.

Red Stripe aims to substitute 40 per cent of its HMCS imports with cassava starch by 2019. This 40 per cent substitution requires a significant expansion in cassava production to 65,000 metric tons of tubers (roots) annually, well above the current national production level of 17,300 metric tons.  

According to Red Stripe managing director Ricardo Nuncio, this increase in projected demand will also mean more jobs for more Jamaicans.

“We have already completed training for almost 100 farmers in cassava production. The IDB funding will allow us to increase the number of farms we have and provide employment for many young people, particularly in farming communities, some of which are struggling,” said Nuncio.

Project Grow is spearheaded by the Desnoes & Geddes Foundation, with contributions from international entities such as the IDB and local technical expertise from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries among others.

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, global cassava production is likely to accelerate over the current decade. Booming demand for starch and other related products offers millions of cassava growers the opportunity to intensify production, earn higher incomes, and increase food security.  In Jamaica, the use of cassava in agro processing is rapidly emerging.

Balford Henry

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