By Chris Onuoha
As the world all over marks “World Agriculture Day 2018”, Nestlé Nigeria PLC, the largest food and beverage companies in the region, joins the rest of the world to celebrate, identifying with its Creating Share Value (CSV) activities that empowers farmers across Nigeria and thereby contributing its quota towards developing the Agriculture sector of the country.
In a press release made available to media in connection to the ‘World Agriculture Day’ celebration, it stated, “Nestle Nigeria PLC in collaboration with International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) and 2Scale is helping farmers improve their livelihoods by empowering smallholder farmers on sustainable farming practices under the initiative, Nestlé Nigeria & IFDC/2Scale Project Sorghum & Millet. The partnership aims to improve grain quality and productivity at the farm level. Nestlé, together with its implementing partners, has made significant impact in the past two years, training over 7905 sorghum and 1069 millet farmers on good agricultural pre-harvest and post-harvest practices. 22% of these farmers are women. The farmers testify to a significant increase in income. This change is due to an increase in productivity, improved crop quality and the availability of a ready market, which eliminates the negative influence of middlemen.”
Quoting further, it stated, “It is worth to note that before Nestlé Nigeria and IFDC/2Scale Project Sorghum & Millet’s intervention came to be, the yield per hectare was 0.9 tons. In the first year of the project in 2015, the yield doubled to 1.3 tons per hectare and reached 1.8 tons per hectare in 2017. The target is to reach 2.20 tons per hectare in 2018 farming season, progressing towards the maximum yield capacity of 2.35 tons per hectare of the crop varieties.”
According to the statement, “Nestle also embarked on business training and coaching programmes to improve negotiating skills of farmers. The coaching sessions have led to farmers becoming much more confident about their position and the quality of their products. For women producers, this has had an especially strong impact. One example of this can be found in Mrs. Hanna Musa, one of the two women in the negotiations team. Prior to the coaching, she had been too shy to speak up, but the opportunity to participate in the negotiations on Nestlé’s terms of delivery and payment, helped her grow into her leadership role.”
Mr. Maxwell Olitsa, Project Manager, IFDC speaking on the outcome of the initiative said, “We achieved the results in the field by empowering farmers to adopt best practices and new technology. 27 demo plots were established as six of them were managed by women. The demo plots are always accessible to the farming clusters to provide continuous technical support and coaching in the field. To ensure crop integrity from farm to factory gate, the project also trains aggregators, pesticide spray providers and input suppliers. This 360-degree approach has significantly reduced post-harvest losses.
Emphasizing on the impact of the project on the livelihoods of farmers and on the company, Mr. Mauricio Alarcon, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Nestlé Nigeria said, “Today, we source about 80% of our agricultural raw material in the country. As we work towards increasing this percentage, we remain committed to working alongside our partners to further improve the quality and quantity of grains and legumes. The results we have achieved so far with Nestlé Nigeria & IFDC/2Scale Project Sorghum & Millet is an example of what is possible when we look at the agriculture value chain holistically from the farm to storage, to transportation, and right down to the factory gate and take definite measures to close the gaps,” he concluded.