• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Localisation of raw materials in brewing industry will boost agric sector – Duke

With outlook of Nigerian brewers still looking bright in spite of the economic downturn, Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River State, sees the localisation of raw materials in the multibillion naira sector as a way of stimulating and boosting Nigeria’s agriculture sector and achieving economic diversification.

To ensure that the brewing industry maximally use local raw materials for the production of beer, with estimated market value of about $3 billion annually, Duke, who spoke at the Nigerian Breweries Symposium on beer in Lagos, encouraged the government to assist the industry through grants for research and tax rebates to localise their raw materials.

Government had often talked about economic diversification through agriculture, which had not yielded enough impact as a result of various challenges, but Duke said until agriculture was industrialised, not only in production but also in consumption, “we will not get the necessary productivity out of the sector.

“We are the largest producer of cassava in the world, about 30 million tons annually of cassava, and we don’t even consume up to half of it. The industrial consumption of cassava can ensure we consume the produce even more. We need to encourage the pharmaceuticals and the alcohol industry to make use of it.”

The Nigerian Breweries third annual beer symposium also saw stakeholders listening to the effects and health benefits of beer when consumed in moderation.

Duke recalled that sorghum, an ingredient in beer, was much grown in Northern part of Nigeria, and about 250,000 farmers were involved in the production. If the brewing industry is not encouraged, the farmers would also not be encouraged, he said.

Most of the world big players in business are presently in the Nigerian market, which is the biggest in terms of GDP and population in Africa with growing middle class and quite sizeable percentage of the beer consuming population, which makes the beer industry thriving.

Also speaking, Innocent Ujah, director-general, Nigerian Medical Research, put total annual beer revenue worldwide at about $300 billion.

Ujah advocated for moderate drinking of beer as excess consumption could cause confusion in the system, like increase in heart disease and liver cirrhosis, and even lead to dead or injuries in automobile accidents and foetal abnormalities.

He warned that no level of alcohol was safe in pregnancy, which most Nigerians are not aware of, summing up his presentation by saying that alcohol was good provided it was taken in moderation.

On whether beer causes pot belly, Tony Agenmonmen, senior strategy manager, Nigerian Breweries plc, said categorically that “beer does not cause pot belly,” but attributed pot belly especially in men to the amount of calories consumed and not burnt due to lack of physical exercise.

He said pot belly or not was about lifestyle and habit, and not beer, maintaining that “moderate beer consumption cannot give pot belly,” relying on research for the assertion.

He further said that the company was making a lot of efforts in promoting responsible drinking among the populace.