By Tunde Osho
Nestle Nigeria Plc has reaffirmed its resolve to the development of Ogun State, host of two of its three factories in Nigeria.
The consumer goods and beverage company restated its commitment while marking the 4th Edition of Ogun State Investors Forum, which is a collaborative effort between the company and the host government.
The purpose of the forum is to consolidate on the gains of the present administration while accelerating growth. Nestle Nigeria which is the sponsor of the summit said it has maintained its continued contribution to the development of Nigeria through local sourcing of raw materials, job creation, capacity building and community development for the past 57 years.
In his remarks, the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun explained that his government has laid a solid foundation for socio-economic development through exploration of various value chains including agriculture, industry and technology. Governor Amosun reiterated his government’s resolve to encourage backward integration and agricultural import substitution.
While speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria Plc, Mr. Mauricio Alarcon, said “Our collaboration with Ogun State does not end with job creation and community development. Nestlé has been working with the state through the Commissioner of Agriculture, Mrs. Adepeju Adebajo to explore opportunities for increasing local sourcing of agricultural raw materials including cassava, from the state,” he said.
During the panel of discussion, Mr. Alarcon while speaking on the theme, “Feed Nigeria, Feed Africa: Completing the Value Chain” highlighted areas of potential collaboration between government and industry to accelerate development of the agriculture value chain. “There are thousands of farmers in Nigeria, 360,000 in Ogun State alone, with relatively low output while the industry has a huge need. To achieve real success with connecting farmers to industry, the aggregators, processors, and logistics must also be considered within this value chain,” he said.
Mr. Alarcon went on to emphasize that grouping smallholder farmers into co-operatives or via aggregators makes it easier to work with farmers. Aggregation, he said, would facilitate the farming process from distribution of high quality seeds, to training farmers on good farming practices and post-harvest handling to improve crop quality and reduce losses.
The event brought together the government, leaders of industry and other stakeholders to discuss growth opportunities. In attendance were the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh; The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Ogun State Governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun; Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Nigeria, Mauricio Alarcon and Mr. Tokunbo Aromolaran, Managing Director of VON Automobile Nig. Ltd and others.
Nestlé Nigeria Plc began simple trading operations in Nigeria in 1961 and has today grown into a leading food manufacturing and marketing company.