Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States government has entered into a groundbreaking private sector partnership with Emzor Food and Beverages Limited, a Nigerian company led by a woman.
The partnership aims to establish a medical-grade, groundnut paste-processing facility. This paste is a crucial component of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), a vital treatment for malnourished children.
In Nigeria, a staggering 3.6 million children endure severe acute malnutrition (SAM), predominantly concentrated in the northern states. Sadly, around 50 per cent of deaths among Nigerian children under the age of five are attributed to malnutrition. RUTF, a nutrient-dense paste created from groundnut paste, oil, sugar, milk powder and supplements, serves as the standard therapy for SAM. This treatment effectively rescues SAM-affected children from the brink of death by supplying essential nutrients.
Previously reliant on costly imported groundnut paste from Argentina and India, Nigeria is now set to revolutionise this landscape through a transformative partnership. This initiative will enable Nigeria to employ locally-produced RUTF, offering a more economical and sustainable solution while simultaneously generating economic prospects for Nigerian groundnut farmers. With a shared commitment to alleviating malnutrition among Nigerian children, both Emzor and USAID contributed $1 million each to establish a UNICEF-approved groundnut paste processing facility, which will be one of just two such facilities on the entire African continent.
At the signing ceremony, USAID mission director Dr. Anne Patterson expressed gratitude to Emzor’s managing director, Dr. Stella Okoli, for her dedication to this partnership and her collaboration with the U.S. Government. Patterson stated, “Together, we will enhance the accessibility, availability and acceptability of RUTF, ultimately leading to improved treatment for severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria. The increased demand for locally-produced medical-grade groundnut paste will also create new prospects for local groundnut farmers, bolster Nigeria’s agricultural sector and promote inclusive economic growth.”
Okoli highlighted, “This partnership underscores the private sector’s pivotal role in tackling Nigeria’s most formidable development challenges. Once operational, the facility will produce 400 kilogrammes of paste per hour, offering a home-grown solution to severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria.” This collaboration showcases the power of synergy between government agencies and private enterprises to address pressing societal issues and foster sustainable development.