Nestlé Nigeria says it is using its Sorghum and Millet in the Sahel (SMS) Project to improve livelihoods across the communities in which the company operates, a top official has said.
Nestle’s Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Victoria N’dee Uwadoka, made the assertion while reviewing some farmers visit to the company’s factory at Agbara in Ogun.
Uwadoka said that the company was satisfied that the farmers had seen for themselves why quality was important for food safety, adding that the company would strengthen the partnership to improve the life of Nigerians.
A delegation of farmers, representing 89 farming communities from Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Gombe visited the factory.
They comprise of farmers who are community leaders and representatives of the farming clusters that are beneficiaries of the Nestlé SMS Project.
The farmers were at the factory to see how the grains and legumes they produce were transformed into high quality nutritious products, including Nestle Milo, Golden Morn and Maggi for families.
The SMS project, which it is carrying out in partnership International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), is to strengthen the resilience of millet/sorghum farming systems in Northwestern Nigeria, by empowering Small Holder Farmers (SHFs) on sustainable farming practices.
Uwadoka said the project trained the farmers to address the perennial challenges of poor farm practices, low crop yield and post-harvest losses plaguing food security in Nigeria.
“This is why Nestlé is training the farmers on good agricultural practices and business methods, to enable them develop farming as a sustainable business in a way which will boost their output, minimise losses, and ensure financial independence so as to improve their livelihoods. The farmers are also trained on crop quality and safety measures, to reduce the levels of mycotoxin, aflatoxin and aluminum contamination which pose serious health risks for humans and livestock,” she said.
“The high occurrence of this toxin in African dietary staples, including maize, corn, cassava and nuts makes it imperative that we focus on eliminating its occurrence to contribute to improving food security in Nigeria. As these toxins are produced by certain fungi and are usually found in diseased or mouldy crops, improving handling and storage practices is key to their elimination,’’ she said .
The company’s image maker said that in 2016, 15,000 of the Smallholder Farmers (SHFs) benefited from the trainings, while 8,237 have so far been reached in 2017.
She noted that the visit afforded the farmers the opportunity to see firsthand how the grains and legumes they produce were transformed into high quality nutritious food products.
She said that the farmers were important stakeholders to help the company achieve its objective which was to continue to deliver high quality nutritious meals for Nigerian families.
“We invited them to see and experience firsthand how important they are to us and how their activities impact on our shared objectives of nourishing Nigerian families. We are satisfied that they have seen for themselves why quality is important for food safety.’’
Uwadoka Nestlé rsitated the company’s commitment to continue to touch lives within its communities, from the farmers who supply the raw materials to the individuals and families who enjoy their products.
The spokesman for the delegation, Mr Bature Abdullahi, who is the Coach and Chairman, Tafoki Farmers Cluster, Katsina State commended the initiative.
“We came to see what Nestlé Nigeria is doing with the products we produce. We are also here to establish the understanding we already have with them as partners; we are highly impressed. They are using our products judiciously to produce Nestlé Milo and Maggi; I feel happy that I am part of this progress. We are producing white sorghum and we have seen the need to meet the standard of Nestlé Nigeria. The standard charges we to make our produce very clean from the point of harvesting.This will be such that when you bring it to the factory, the products will be accepted because they will have minimal foreign bodies such as hubs, stones and metals. We have to imbibe the best farming practices to achieve this to ensure that wholesome products are produced for Nigerians.’’
He appealed to the Federal Government to support farmers by providing agro inputs such as fertilisers, chemicals and seeds.
According to him, the process of food production starts from planting and when very good seeds are planted, the yields will be high.
The visitors were led around the Golden Morn, Milo and Maggi production sites, where the outputs from their farms namely Millet, Sorghum and Soya are utilised daily.