Poverty and hunger in Central and West Africa can't be solved by donated food. Nigeria needs to rebuild and boost its own agricultural economy. Nestle has a plan to do just that.
Nestle's new program, called "Creating Shared Value," focuses on native agriculture as a way to generate income, create jobs and help solve the hunger crisis in Nigeria. At this year's September forum in Lagos, Etienne Benet, head of Nestlé in Central and West Africa, said:
We invite all the companies dealing with the agribusiness sector in Central and West Africa to go beyond treating food security as a philanthropic activity. Indeed, we need a new vision for food and agriculture that delivers environmental sustainability and economic opportunity.
An aspect of this program is Nestle’s partnership with IITA, a research group based in Nigeria, to build more capacity and boost productivity in the country's cassava farming. Along these same lines is the company’s Quality Grains Improvement Project. Aimed at reducing mycotoxin levels, the program provides higher quality grains and educates farmers on proper storage techniques. Both of these initiatives increase income in the most rural areas to give the local economy a much needed boost, while improving the long-term quality of food that Nestle can purchase for its products.
An article by Business Day reports that "Nestle Nigeria “has helped to generate over 14,000 jobs along its value chain, while paying N50 billion in taxes between 2007 and 2012.” This funnels money into all levels of the economy and pay into the government system to fund other projects. At the Creating Shared Value forum Martin Woolnough, managing director at Nestle Nigeria, spoke about the importance of taking a new approach. “Our discussions are aimed at what we need to do, in a pragmatic way, over the coming decades to address the challenges of nutrition, water and rural development in the context of food security, environmental sustainability and greater economic opportunity.”
Social Enterprise Reports and Awards recognized Nestle in September as the best company working to create shared value in the country. They also came in third among the most socially responsible companies in Nigeria.
Growing local businesses will be a major factor in contributing to Nigeria's overall welfare, and many will look to Nestle to continue leading the way.