In an era marked by growing awareness of environmental sustainability and the importance of supporting local economies, the concept of local sourcing has gained significant traction especially in the manufacturing industry.
Bralirwa Plc, part of Heineken company, has set local sourcing as a core principle that guides their operations and shapes their commitment to creating a positive social economic impact in the community.
In 2019, the company introduced Barley as a new cash crop in Rwanda which is used as one of the raw materials for malt, a key ingredient in beer manufacturing. Barley was previously sourced from Europe but today there is an increase of locally sourced barley.
“Introducing a new cash crop required a process of seed multiplication and a series of variety trials which would not have possible without the support and partnership of key stakeholders such as the Rwanda Agricultural Board and Farmers’ Associations,” said Samuel Murumu, Supply Chain Director at Bralirwa.
Farmers are regularly trained on comprehensive modern agricultural practices for barley cultivation which includes technical guidance on land preparation, planting, irrigation, pest and disease management as well as access to mechanized harvesting techniques to ensure a consistent compliance to quality yield.
Over 2000 farmers are engaged in barley farming as an alternative rotational crop, which boosts the yield of staple crops such as Irish potatoes. Many farmers testify to the benefits of crop rotation and to the ready market that is guaranteed by Bralirwa.
“I was introduced to Barley farming in planting season B of 2020. By then I involved in Irish potato farming on a land of 6 hectares and was always afraid to find alternative crops for crop rotation because I was not sure of the profitability and as a result my yield was always low” said Nkurunziza a 44-year-old farmer in Musanze.
“Barley farming changed my life, and I was able to progress due to the training I received, the support and the guaranteed market. I now do farming on 18 hectares of land, and I am able to provide school fees and other basic needs for my eight children” he added. Nkurunziza also testified how he was able to move from category 2 to category 3 of Rwandan wealth ranking system (ubudehe) in the past two years.
During the forthcoming planting season, Bralirwa is preparing to significantly boost its local barley growing program in an effort to upscale its local sourcing efforts through partnerships with key stakeholders to ensure consistent production standards whilst supporting sustainable growth and social impact in the community.
“Our commitment to local sourcing remains unwavering due to its social impact to the community and contribution to environmental sustainability through reduction of carbon emission that stems from transportation,” said Samuel Murumu. “We are exploring different innovative approaches to scale-up our efforts in a sustainable manner in order to avoid business risks to both the farmers and the business,” he added.
Bralirwa’s local sourcing program also extends to maize farming hence benefiting from government incentives for use of local raw materials to boost the agricultural sector.