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First barley trials yield positive results

left to right: Wessie van der Westhuizen, managing director of NBL, Christian Müller, brew master at NBL, Hon Petrus Iilonga, deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, S. Ipinge, director of research at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Gideon Shilongo, NBL’s manager of corporate affairs and Martin Kraft, project manager of Ohlthaver & List. The first trials of Namibia Breweries’ barley project in four regions across the country delivered positive results with valuable insights being gained into how to grow the crop locally. Acccording to the Breweries’ managing director, Wessie van der Westhuizen, the first trials delivered positive results.
“We are not yet able to confirm which of the six varieties trialled is most suitable to our climatic conditions and our brewing needs as the results varied over the four different locations, however, I am pleased to confirm that the yield exceeded our expectations and that a next round of trials will be conducted to improve on the cropping regime and gather further data as part of the feasibility study,” said van der Westhuizen.
The results of the first trials of the barley feasibility study were announced on 10 May. The first trials of the feasibility study commenced on 17 June 2011.
The project is being undertaken to establish whether a local malt barley industry can be established in Namibia. Should the project be successful, it would allow Namibia Breweries to procure the vital ingredient locally, stimulating further economic development in Namibia. The barley project was established as a result of deliberations with Epia, the BEE partners of the  Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies in 2010. Epia was keen to explore the feasibility of growing  barley locally. Key to the study are the trials which are being conducted to determine the most suitable varieties for the harsh climatic conditions in Namibia, and suited to brewing NBL’s Reinheitsgebot beers. Led by Namibia Breweries with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, and the technical expertise of Dr Jorry Kaurivi of the University of Namibia, the first trials commenced on 17 June 2011 with the planting of six potentially suitable varieties in the Omusati, Kavango, Oshikoto and Hardap regions. The first harvest was concluded on 24 November 2011 after which the grains were sent for various tests in Namibia as well as Germany. The trials will be repeated to confirm the results and gain statistical confidence by again trialing the same six varieties on at least two of the locations that were previously trialed, while incorporating lessons learned. Furthermore, an additional six hectare will be planted with the current best variety in Hardap, to be used for further processing/malting and consecutive brewing trials if quality permits.

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