Bernard Lodge lands to boost Red Stripe's cassava production


Bernard Lodge lands to boost Red Stripe's cassava production

Business reporter

Sunday, May 07, 2017

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The Government of Jamaica has signed off on a 25-year lease agreement with local brewery Red Stripe for approximately 610 acres of land in St Catherine. The signing ceremony, which took place at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries in New Kingston on Friday, saw the handing over of lands located in the Windsor Park and Worcester areas of St Catherine, formerly sugar cane fields of the Bernard Lodge estate.

The land will be used by Red Stripe to expand its cassava cultivation. It brings to over 1,040 acres that will be placed under cultivation by the brewery for input in its Red Stripe production. Red Stripe also plans to use the local raw material in the production of its Dragon, Malta and Guinness products.

Minister of Industry Karl Samuda in signing the agreement, said through the wholly owned Land Management Company, SCJ Holdings Limited, the Government of Jamaica has reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable economic growth. He reckons that Jamaica could export cassava malt syrup if Red Stripe increases its cassava acreage to 10,000; allowing for excess supply of the local raw material.

The minister also declared his commitment to ensure adequate irrigation water source for the fields by extending another 25-year lease agreement for the Windsor Park Well to Red Stripe, thereby relieving the brewery of financially burdensome water woes that cripple many agricultural products.

Red Stripe has identified and adopted a sustainable agricultural strategy “Project Grow” to increase the use of locally sourced raw materials, specifically cassava in its brewed products by up to 40 per cent by 2020. The company aims to convert cassava into starch and into cassava malt syrup to replace the imported high maltose syrup.

The project reflects the overall business strategy of its parent company Heineken.

Red Stripe hopes to expand its cassava cultivation to a total 4,000 acres of the crop by 2020. The company also plans to contract 400 mostly small farmers to grow the cassava. The local brewery currently has 27 farmers and one farmers' group is being contracted to supply Red Stripe with tubers for the Project, which represents approximately 430 acres of land.

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