Working with Barely Farmers - Malt Barley Development Programme
Barley produced in India is feed-grade with very poor brewing quality. Barley crop in India is not remunerative compared to the competing crops and hence the crop is not keeping pace with the requirement of industry. SABMiller India anticipates the supply of barley to fall short of industry’s requirement in few years’ time, if active intervention by SABMIiller India and the industry does not take place.
SABMiller India recognized the need for improving the malt barley industry in terms of product quality, supply chain and farm productivity. The Company realized that the key to sustainable and viable malt barley supply chain is to invest in barley varietals development and a strong barley supply chain. Backed with the successful experiences in other developing countries and taking forward its Sustainable Development priority of bringing benefits to the communities, SABMiller India initiated the Saanjhi Unnati (Progress through Partnership) project in Rajasthan in 2005 which was later extended to other States of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
The Programme- Saanjhi Unnati initiative
The programme was launched in Rajasthan in 2005 to develop malt barley varieties suitable for India; provide improved varieties to farmers; disseminate information on practices to improve the productivity of the crop and finally buy back the barley thus produced directly from the farmers, eliminating middlemen and hence shrinking the market spread.
Catalysing rural development and improving standard of living
While the project is targeted at improving the barley supply chain in India, the overall aim is to secure a long-term reliable source of locally grown malt-quality barley and test new strains of barley that offer better yield and price to the farmers.
The project benefits the farmers and the local community by optimising land use, securing income and enabling them to participate in the growth of the Indian beer market. A prime example of a public-private partnership (PPP), Saanjhi Unnati involves working closely with Government and NGOs to catalyse rural development. We are further working closely with the State Government on our seed development programme to identify seed varieties that are best suited for climate and soil in North-Western India. The program that started in 2005 in 1 State, with a membership of 1500 farmers, sourcing less than 5% of SABMiller India’s barley requirement, in 2013-14 has spread over 5 States, working with about 9500 farmers and sourcing about 65% of our requirement.
How Saanjhi Unnati functions
SABMiller India actively manages the day to day of the Saanjhi Unnati program. The company has a dedicated team that manages and directs the 37 Saanjhi Unnati Centres where farmers can buy seed stock and other inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides or consult with the agricultural specialists. Each center employs technical advisors who give recommendations and instructions relating to seed treatment, time of irrigation, method of fertilizer application, weeding practices, harvest timing and storage practices. In addition these centers function as buying stations, where barley is weighted, graded and farmers are paid on the spot for their crops.
In its commitment to ensuring a long term viable supply chain for barley in India, SABMiller India has undertaken to assure a minimum price for its Saanjhi Unnati member farmers for malt barley, which is anticipated to be considerably higher than the market driven price of barley.
Benefits to the farmers:
- Government certified seeds made available at a subsidized rate through the “seeds-on-wheels” campaign
- Barley farmers educated on best practices to help them improve their quality and yields
- Scientific inputs provided to farmers on issues pertaining to soil testing and agronomic advice
- Farmers get an assured market for their barley, transparent transactions, assured pricing structure (quality based) and on the spot payment.
Benefits to the company:
- Meet the target of achieving a stable, secure source of malting barley to produce its beverages
- Having access to the higher-quality malting barley helps the company reduce the cost of brewing process
- Helps in improving the quality and extending the shelf life of its products
Results and Achievements of the Initiative
During, 2013-14, through these centres farmers purchased about 1200 MT of certified seeds, up from 165 MT at the beginning of the program. More than 5,000 non-members have taken advantage of free agricultural advice and assistance provided by the centres. The average measure of malt extract has increased by 2 percent.
Through the program the farmers have benefitted in getting an assured market for their barley, transparent transactions, and fair pricing structures.
The program has also been extended to the state of Punjab.