Xplorio Overberg

Fields of Barley – Better Barley, Better Beer Initiative

SABMiller has embarked on an initiative with WWF South Africa to develop a set of criteria aimed at helping barley farmers understand their resilience and threats against a well-researched set of best practices around sustainable agriculture. Called the Better Barley, Better Beer Initiative with a vision to customise international best practice guidelines to empower and support local barley farmers towards a more sustainable future.

These guidelines are designed to support farmers to grow barley on a more sustainable basis from economic, social and environmental perspectives. There is a common interest to grow the economic assets of farmers while uplifting the social conditions and environmental integrity of the landscape. SABMiller aims to walk the journey with farmers and learn how to enhance the already substantial contribution of barley farming to the country, its people and the economy.

The Better Barley, Better Beer Initiative is a long-term and innovative approach to ensure that farmers remain operating in a changing world and consumers continue to enjoy affordable and top quality beers in the future.

For more information visit www.sabbi.org

Some history of the Overberg barley & malting industries

South African Breweries’ (SAB) involvement in the barley and malting industries in our country dates back more than a century, however in the early 1970s, barley growing began in earnest in Caledon, Swellendam and Bredasdorp. Southern Associated Maltsters (SAM) based in Caledon was established in April 1978 as a joint venture between SAB and two cooperatives.

During the mid-1990s, a second barley growing area was established in the Vaalharts and Taung areas. In 2006, more than 800 farmers were planting barley for the malting industry.

SAM, now called SAB Maltings, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SABMiller and has been operating since 1981. Caledon Maltings is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere, with an annual capacity of 180,000 tons, runs a 24/7/365 operation, and every 14 to 16 hours, a 306-ton batch of malt is produced. Each batch takes 9 days to complete, is equivalent to 9 rail wagons, and produces 7.8 million cans of beer.


The annual Agri Mega Week took place from Wednesday the 16th September to Saturday the 19th September 2015.

The guest speaker at the launch of the event was Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, who emphasised the importance of this international showcase of the latest technology and trends in agriculture, and the fact that agriculture remains an imperative contributor towards economic growth in the Western Cape.

The Overberg Business Magazine also visited Agri Mega. The theme of Global Food Security was clear, and we had great appreciation for all the effort that went into the detailed exhibits.

There was something for everybody, young or old, big or small, farmer or not. Did you know a healthy cow produces 65 litres of milk a day? So it also needs 65 litres of water per day.

The event was perfectly planned and executed. The visitors were well-informed and equipped with brochures and maps. From the Overberg Business Magazine, congratulations to the Agri Mega team and all involved on a job well done!

Eloïse Krige