In its efforts to upgrade farming to a business, Nestle Nigeria Plc is collaborating with 53,000 sorghum and millet farmers in four Northern states to increase the quality of the grains, reduce contaminants and and bring the produce to acceptable limits.
The farmers who are from Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Adamawa are also trained under the Sorghum and Millet Improvement Scheme in partnership with the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC).
Sorghum is used in the manufacturing of food products, especially Milo, the energy food drink that is a staple in Nigerian homes.
Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate and Public Affairs Manager, Nestlé Nigeria, said the training was in line with the company’s commitment to sustaining the partnership with the farmers to ensure that Nigerians got wholesome foods.
Uwadoka spoke during a tour of the Nestle’s Factory Complex at Agbara in Ogun by a delegation of the farmers from the four Northern states. The farmers came to see how Nestle has been utilising their yields in the production of Nestle Milo, Maggi and Golden Morn.
The produce farmers representing 89 farming communities and clusters from Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Gombe, comprise of farmers who are beneficiaries of the Nestlé SMS Project.
The aim of the Nestle Project is to ensure the sustainability, availability and resilience of millet and sorghum, as well as ensure that the level of contaminants is very minimal and within acceptable limits.
“The project is also to ensure that the qualities of these grains that are produced are better, to increase revenue and enable these farmers feed their families better says Uwadoka who expect the farmers to imbibe the best practices that they have been taught in pre-farming, farming and post-harvest best practices.
“ We have been able to reach 30,000 farmers in 2016 alone across Kano, Kaduna and Katsina states; this year, we have added Jigawa.
“The training reached 15,000 in farming and post-harvest training; out of these, we further trained 8,000 in business practices.
“We want them to see it as a business and begin to think of processes to sustain, plan, forecast and harvest at the appropriate times.
“About 1,606 women and 1,325 youths were part of this business training.’’
The Nestlé’s corporate communications and public affairs manager urged the farmers to ensure best practices in their farming systems.
According to her, this will reduce the level of contaminants in their produce, further strengthen the collaboration and contribute to the progress, prosperity, economic development and industrial growth of Nigeria.
Bature Abdullahi, Coach and Chairman, Tafoki Farmers Cluster, Katsina State, said: “We came to see what Nestlé Nigeria is doing with the products we produce.
“We are also here to establish the understanding we already have with them as partners; we are highly impressed.
“They are using our products judiciously to produce Nestlé Milo and Maggi; I feel happy that I am part of this progress.’’
Abdullahi added: “We are producing white sorghum and we have seen the need to meet the standard of Nestlé Nigeria.
“The standard charges us to make our produce very clean from the point of harvesting.
“This will be such that when you bring it to the factory, the products will be accepted because they will have minimal foreign bodies such as hubs, stones and metals.
“We have to imbibe the best farming practices to achieve this to ensure that wholesome products are produced for Nigerians.’’
He appealed to the Federal Government to support farmers by providing agro inputs such as fertilisers, chemicals and seeds.
According to him, the process of food production starts from planting and when very good seeds are planted, the yields will be high.