Rising food costs around the globe have placed more than 100 million of the world’s poorest people at risk of chronic malnutrition. In West Africa, Nestlé is working with rural development experts from Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria to help the region’s farmers enhance their production of high-quality staples. Locally grown staples can significantly reduce the costs that west African consumers pay for essential processed foods while providing rural communities with new opportunities to expand their incomes. Currently, West Africa’s major food processing companies import large volumes of cereals, beans, and oilseeds from overseas markets. This importation significantly increases consumer costs.
Whilst many west African farmers produce significant surpluses of cereals and legumes, their crops are frequently contaminated with mycotoxins—fungal growths that develop when cereals and legumes are raised and stored under excessively humid conditions. Research conducted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) estimates that the vast majority of rural West African children have excessive levels of mycotoxins in their blood that can cause serious health effects, including delayed growth, suppressed immune systems, and high rates of liver disease. Reducing mycotoxins in grains and legumes can thus deliver a significant health benefit to rural communities. The presence of mycotoxins also prevents West African farmers from selling their surpluses to Nestlé and other food processing companies. This result is that local farmers are denied access to major urban consumer markets in their own countries, and food processors must import agricultural commodities from outside the region. Farmers participating in the Nestlé-sponsored training program will “learn by doing” through forums that help them monitor and evaluate their crops for mycotoxin contamination and adopt sustainable management practices. Best practices and lessons learned from the training programs will also be disseminated to national agricultural instruction programmes across the region through a bi-annual newsletter jointly published by IITA, Nestlé, and national research institutions.
Value to Society
It is expected that the training program will help participating farmers earn USD 900,000 in direct revenue from increased sales, and it will produce approximately USD 126 million in indirect social and economic benefits for the West African region.
Value to Nestlé
Nestlé is creating shared value for the company and the region by investing in training programs that are teaching 3,000 rural farmers how to bring the health and safety standards of their maize, soybeans, and cowpeas up to world-class standards.