AB InBev works with more than 20,000 farmers globally to grow natural ingredients — including barley, corn, rice, hops, sorghum and cassava — for their beers. As the world’s leading brewer, they provide tools, resources and technology that can empower farmers to improve their yields, livelihoods and continue to farm sustainably for the future. As part of the company’s 2025 Sustainability Goals, AB InBev is committed to skill, connect and financially empower 100% of their direct farmers by 2025. This was never more important than when COVID-19 struck.
COVID-19 impacted farmers across the globe in different ways. In India, when restrictions were introduced, barley growers were in the middle of their harvest, which meant they couldn’t transport grain to town or store it. European farmers had completed their harvest from the previous year, but planting this year’s crops needed to be done and they were less able to conduct crucial business directly.
Amid this unpredictability, the company’s investment in technology and innovation in this area helped to keep farmers connected and supported throughout the growing season.
AB InBev has a team of over 100 dedicated agronomists and researchers across the world supporting such farmers to produce sustainable, high quality crops and share best practice. During the pandemic, these services shifted, leveraging many of the digital tools and capabilities that were invested in over the years. SMS messages, video and local radio were used to inform communities about things like growing conditions and how to safely store grain as well as local safety restrictions. PPE was handed out at buying centres and trainings became virtual.
In the same vein, with international non-profit TechnoServe, AB InBev is working to strengthen small-scale farmers. In 2020, the partnership evolved to support smallholder agricultural development teams during the pandemic with scenario-planning, solutions and interventions to safeguard the livelihoods of farmers and their families
AB InBev’s Smart Agriculture initiatives, alongside the company’s scale and local approach, can help to strengthen market opportunities for farmers and to help improve crop production. As we recover from the impact of COVID-19, the company remains committed to working with farmers to give them the skills, tools and support needed to futureproof this vital industry.