JOHANNESBURG - Agronomists and food scientists of Stellenbosch University
(SU) on Wednesday announced their partnership with have the multinational
beverage and brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev).The R6 million funding received is set to allow them to
tackle specific issues over the next three years related to the production of
It will also include crops such as cassava and sorghum
that is often used in beer making in many African countries.
Their endeavours are being funded through the new AB InBev Research Chair
in Agronomy held by Prof Nick Kotze of the SU Department of Agronomy.
In a statement, Professor Nick Kotze said the bursaries
worth R1 million will be provided to six undergraduate and four postgraduate
MSc students at SU.
A further R1 million is being set aside to fund various research projects. Nikki Else, Research and Development
Manager said Agriculture Africa at AB InBev, is the biggest
investment yet in a South African university by AB InBev Research,
or by SAB Miller, with which it merged in October 2016.
“We are excited about the partnership, and believe that
the research will mitigate potential risks within the supply chain,
demonstrating our commitment to South
Africa whilst ensuring the required quality
that meets the needs of our brewers and our customers,” said Else. “From the research, we hope to put forward
recommendations to predict the storage potential of pre-germinated grains, to
ensure that crops are not lost completely,” said Kotze.
Cassava and Sorghum research will also be
conducted where several varieties will be evaluated against agronomic and
quality criteria. Various trial sites in Africa
for selected varieties will be identified in order to determine
different climatic and soil conditions on production.
Else said, projects related to cassava and sorghum will help ABInBev increase its
reach in Africa’s local beer market. “Through this project we hope to provide guidelines to
producers in these countries on the production techniques that work best to
grow quality sorghum.”
Another project involves food scientists at Stellenbosch University which will focus on
the detection of a quality compound issue found in the cassava plant. The project consists of Prof Kotze, Dr Stefan Hayward and
Prof Pieter Gouws of the Department of Food Science at Stellenbosch University,
as well as Dr Else of AB InBev.
“Laboratory facilities to do such tests are not always
available in the remote areas where cassava is typically produced,” explains
Prof Gouws. “Therefore, we’d like to develop a kit that is easy and quick to
use in the field.”