As part of efforts to promote viable agricultural supply chains that contribute significantly to national economies, US Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with Nestle Nigeria Plc has launched ‘Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestle Maize Quality Improvement Partnership in Kaduna state.
The Feed the Future is a US Government global hunger and food security initiative.
To address the challenges of post-harvest losses and contaminants in staple crops such as maize and soybean, USAID, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) and VEGA Member Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) launched the partnership.
The programme aims to train farmers, workers and small agricultural businesses in Kaduna state by leveraging the expertise of volunteers as 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.
The new partnership, Daily Trust gathered, will help reach about 20,000 smallholder farmers including 40percent women and other agro-industry entrepreneurs within the value chain in the state.
Speaking about the partnership, USAID Mission Director, Stephen Haykin said that the 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 as well as providing farmers and suppliers the knowledge and tools to improve their produce.
Also, emphasizing on the impact of the partnership on local economy, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria, Mauricio Alarcon said the partnership is in line with Nestle’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.
"Today, we locally source more than 80 percent of our raw material and we are committed to further increase in this regard," he said.
He however noted that crop contaminants like mycotoxins threaten the health and lives of both humans and animals leading to cancer, fatal kidney and liver failure while in children, aflatoxin, which is a type of mycotoxin causes growth retardation and other serious health problems; hence, the reason for the partnership.
At the event, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Soba Local government area of Kaduna state on the partnership.