ABUJA (Agriculture Ministry’ Report)- Federal government has once more expressed strong political will and commitment to creating business employment in agriculture. This determination and strategy in achieving this commendable objective and goal was re-iterated by the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Ph.D (Leads) in Abuja, when officials of Nestle Nigeria Plc lead by its Managing Director and chief Executive Officer, Mauricio Alarcon visited the Minster in his Officer in Abuja.
Lokpobiri said that the business-employment opportunities in Agriculture cannot be fully tapped despite our increasing population. Commending the good work and business activities of Nestle Nigeria whose source of raw materials for production of her varied food products is 82% local content was appreciated by the Federal Government; this has reduced the pressure on foreign exchange for importation of such needed raw materials. This sourcing has automatically created business-employment for Nigerians across board, especially farmers who grow the needed produce which Nestle needs for their final nutrition food products. The Minister was optimistic that very soon their raw materials will be sourced 100% locally in Nigeria, thereby increasing the business-employment opportunities for more Nigerians.
Re-assuring the officials from Nestle, Lokpobiri said Federal Government is willing and ready to both partner and support Nestle and ensure that everything humanly possible will be done to meet Nestle’s needs of raw materials. Presently, they require Cassava starch in the production of some of the food items they produce, this the Minister assured will be quickly addressed as a priority since this will be greatly beneficial to Nigeria since we shall be consuming what we produce, thereby taking the Nigerian Economy from recession and implementing one of the cardinal area of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plans (ERGP) of the Administration with Agriculture as one of the key Sectors to achieve some of the campaign promise made to the electorates.
The Minister commended the corporate Social Responsibilities of Nestle Nigeria Plc in the provision of water, training, capacity building for over 41,600 farmers confirmed Nestle’s intention to invest in new land and capacity building for over 41,600 farmers who produce Maize, Rice, Sorghum and more importantly, the production of nutritious food for over twenty four thousand households who depend on their products with also over 2000 employees in the company payroll in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Managing Director and chief Executive Officer of Nestle Mauricio Alarcon said they were in the Ministry to seek Federal Government collaboration in the production of more food products, in his words ‘We can’t talk of food without talking about Agriculture’ and that they are convinced that to build partnership, we need to collaborate and establish effective channels of communication, which is the sure way of moving Nigeria forward to a truly self-sufficient food secured nation, Alarco confirmed Nestles intention to invest in new land and capacity building. This time in Cassava Corn Flour, he also promised that Nestle will be an example of what a Company can do in Nigeria by creating enviable share value addition to the Nigerian government for other companies to emulate to grow and boost the Nigerian economy to a prosperous peak height.
He further stated that as part of their corporate social responsibility, they teach healthy food habits and cuisine give good guides on food products, teach kids on good nutrition habits, another of their program me is Project Wealth, Young Entrepreneur Training, Technical Training Centers are in place at Agbara and also more recently at Abaji – near Abuja. They also give academic scholarships to best students.
Some Directors from Agribusiness, Vetnary and Pest Control Services, Animal Husbandry and Nutrition also made observation during the visit.
Lere-Adams, A. B. (Mrs.)
Deputy Director (Information)