Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Local brewers aim to empower farmers with Project Thusanang

Botswana’s popular beverages producers, Kgalagadi Breweries (Pty) Limited and Botswana Breweries (Pty) Limited, have started rolling out a new innovative programme called Project Thusanang, which translates into ‘helping each other through interdependence’.

┬á“Through Project Thusanang, the companies working in concert┬áhope to┬ásource more of their high quality raw materials from local farmer suppliers, rather than relying solely on large regional and international suppliers,” said KBL’s Corporate Communications Manager, Mokoro Ketsitlile.
 He pointed out that by forging mutually beneficial relationships with farmers by way of sourcing the grain meant for use in the production of brew, from local farmers, they will in effect be empowering them and taking import substitution to new heights.

In addition, Ketsitlile highlighted that Project Thusanang signified his company’s commitment to partner with small-scale subsistence farmers to develop value-added agriculture as a way of stimulating local economic growth with a view to improving income levels and entrepreneurship among disadvantaged farming communities.

 On elaborating the background and how KBL and BBL plan to go about actualising its noble intentions, it was indicated that while the project has so far proved promising, its pilot phase took off in July 2009 with four farmers at Mmalore lands in the Southern District.

 The idea was to enable KBL and BBL to get adequate findings and learning during the 2009 ploughing season, so as to ultimately spread to rest of the targeted areas.

“In this respect a dedicated team of officers was set up to help ensure success of the project and to determine the prospects of delivery and detail the scope of the project as well as assign the schedules for the effective running and management of the projects,” said Ketsitlile.

For the same reason two agricultural consultants were engaged to help with feasibility studies and technical work ranging from studying the landscape in Botswana and assessing and identifying possible clusters and farmer networks as well as farmers requirements and potential yields in targeted areas.

Acknowledgment was made of the importance of farmers to KBL and BBL’s local sourcing strategies, as the two companies needed more local produce in their supply chain and have in the same vein have recognized the place of enterprise development and the subsequent employment multiplier effect.
In this case, smallholder farmers are defined as farmers who grow small volumes of produce, and depending mainly on family members to do most of the work and hiring casual labour during land preparation and harvesting.

Basing on the preliminary results of the already conducted feasibility studies, and due to limited availability of seeds only one cluster consisting of four farmers in Mmalore has been activated for the pilot phase.

Again, upon full completion of the rollout of the Project it should have enhanced delivery on solid commercial objectives agreed on at conception of Thusanang, ranging from improving the quality of the grain in Botswana to identifying alternative crops as a raw material for new, innovative products. 

Hloni Matsela, KBL’s Managing Director, “Enterprise development is an integral part of ┬á┬áour business’ long term sustainability, helping to create jobs and wealth in the communities where we operate.”┬á

Matsela added that encouraging enterprise development in business’ value ┬á┬áchain was a key sustainable development priority for both KBL and BBL, and that their activities in that respect were numerous and well integrated into their day to day business.

It was further intimated that KBL and BBL’s enterprise development initiatives have three main strands. These included┬áinvesting in the company’s value chain to support local suppliers; encouraging broader entrepreneurship in local communities; and supporting smallholder farmers.┬á
By undertaking Project Thusanang, KBL and BBL have added to their many achievements anchored upon their joint philosophy of the community-centred business model as a critical success factor to their businesses. 

In the final analysis, the two companies pledged commitment to exploring mutual initiatives of impact that will help create a better future for citizens as well as inspire business confidence whilst facilitating diversification of the economy.

“The next course of action is to test two other clusters after Mmalore, in order to secure further findings and map out feasibility for the areas,” concluded Ketsitlile.

Areas targeted include the North, central parts of the country and the Pandamatenga area.    

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.