Nestlé Nigeria and IFDC have launched a two-year pilot project that aims to help smallholder farmers, of whom 40 per cent are women, in the Sahel and Sudan Savanna areas of the country to develop farming as a business and improve the quality and yields of millet and sorghum, which are popular staple crop ingredients in West African meals.
According to a press release Nestlé each year sources about 7,000 tonnes of sorghum from farmers in northern Nigeria which it uses, for example, as a substitute malt ingredient to tailor its products such as Milo to match the preferred tastes of the local population. It also uses millet sourced from Nigerian farmers in its family cereals like Golden Morn.
Together with IFDC, Nestlé Nigeria looks to further strengthen its work with farmers to provide them with training on good agricultural and storage practices. The training, which will be delivered by using simple, farmer-friendly materials, will teach farmers to manage farming as a business. It will also emphasise crop quality and safety, and in turn, improve their livelihoods.
The pilot project, partly funded by Context Global Development, will run until 2018 with an aim to be scaled up and extended for an additional five years.
The new pilot builds on the Nestlé Grains Quality Improvement Project (GQIP), which was launched in 2008 in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The programme has also been implemented in Ghana.
The GQIP aims to improve the quality and safety of grains and the health of rural communities by cutting the high levels of fungal-based mycotoxins, which can cause serious health problems. In addition, it seeks to reduce the impact of global food shortages on cereal grain quality and reduce the dependence on imported raw materials.
As part of the GQIP, Nestlé Nigeria will also train an additional 15,000 farmers in Nigeria, of whom about two fifths are women, to also cultivate high-quality sorghum, soya beans and maize crops. Nestlé will continue to use its ‘train the trainer’ approach and train its suppliers, who in turn, will teach farmers.
Nestlé’s work with farmers in Nigeria is part of the company’s way of doing business, which it calls ‘Creating Shared Value’. It aims to provide opportunities and improve livelihoods for the communities in which it operates, while developing its own activities.