USAID partners Nestle Nigeria, others to train farmers on best practices

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with Nestle Nigeria Plc and two non-governmental organisations to train farmers, workers and small agricultural businesses in Kaduna State on improving crop quality.

The other organisations that have teamed up with USAID and Nestle Nigeria are Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance and Vega Member Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture.

The new programme is called ‘Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestle Maize Improvement Partnership.’

According to the group, the training is necessary to reduce post-harvest losses and contaminants for small holder farmers in such staple crops as maize and soybean. The exercise would enable the farmers earn a better living.

“Crop contaminants like mycotoxins threaten the health and lives of humans and animals, leading to cancer, fatal kidney and liver failure. In children, aflatoxin – which is a type of mycotoxin – causes growth retardation and other serious health problems,” a joint statement from the groups said.

“Farmers will learn how to reduce crop contaminants, to help sustainably increase the safety and quality of maize and soybeans, which will lead to improve the health, nutrition and livelihoods in their communities,” it added.

Speaking about the partnership, the USAID Mission Director, Stephen Haykin, said, “This public-private partnership, supported by Feed the Future, will help lift farmers out of poverty by sharing best practices in agricultural activities and focusing on value chains.”

He said, “Providing farmers and suppliers the knowledge and tools to improve their produce will help them garner higher selling prices and increase household incomes.

“Investments in this programme from Nestlé and through the in-kind contributions of volunteers really stretch the US taxpayer dollars and increase the return on investment.”

The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Nestlé Nigeria, Mr. Mauricio Alarcon, said the partnership was in line with Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.

“Our Creating Shared Value approach enables us to build thriving, resilient communities with whom we work, by improving the livelihoods of individuals and families. Today, we locally source more than 80 per cent of our raw material and we are committed to further increase in this regard,” he said.

“We believe that the collaboration with the communities, the CNFA, USAID and VEGA will help to improve livelihoods in communities connected to our business activities,” Alarcon added.

The CNFA President and Chief Executive Officer, Sylvain Roy, said that the partnership would allow the CNFA to apply “unique expertise” in supporting smallholder farmers around the globe to improve the company’s new beneficiaries’ capacity to supply processors – one of the fundamental linkages in the agricultural value chain.
According to Roy, the CNFA shares a commitment with its partners to building local technical expertise and capacity for sustainable impact and change.

“We intend to leverage all of our capabilities – development, agriculture training, skilled volunteers and more – to ensure the success of this public-private partnership, and to empower smallholder farmers and business people along the supply chain, including women, youth and families,” Roy said.

The President and Chief Executive Officer, VEGA, Michael Deal, said, “VEGA is very pleased to have brought these partners together to create sustainable supply chain solutions to enhance the well-being of farmers, small business owners and families in Nigeria.

“This partnership serves as a model multi-stakeholder collaboration to leverage the expertise of highly skilled volunteers to generate more prosperity and shared value for all partners. VEGA will continue to coordinate the collaboration of our partners and ensure rigorous results.”

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