Nestle Nigeria has pledged its support to the newly inaugurated women farmer cluster to promote industrial sustainability and food security in the country.
Mrs Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager of Nestle, made the pledge at the inauguration of “Unique Women in Agricultural Cluster Initiative (UWIACI)’’ in Lagos.
Uwadoka said that when farmers came together in clusters, it would create an avenue for them to leverage on the strength of each other.
“I am particularly happy with the inauguration of UWIACI because it will enable women to leverage on the strength of each other as a company like Nestle will not want to deal with individuals.
“The reason is because an individual cannot manage the volume of raw materials that Nestle wants. We can have different clusters within our ecosystem.
“UWIACI should think about the end of the beginning today and that is what matters. Farming is good if it has an objective.
“I commend the Managing Director of Nestle, Mr Mauricio Alarcon, because he said, `find me a cluster of women, who will meet our set standards and I promise you, we will buy from them’,’’ she said.
Uwadoka said that it was rewarding to work with women because they were more honourable and dedicated to a chosen cause and could also transform an opportunity into chains of opportunities.
A former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Sarah Sosan, who was the Special Guest at the event, said she had bought into several aspects of agriculture like piggery.
Sosan said she would support the initiative because she was part of them and encouraged other government ministries and agencies to offer their unreserved support.
Also pledging support for the initiative, Mr Wale Oyekoya, the Managing Director of Bama Farms, offered UWIACI an acre of land for processing purposes.
Oyekoya said the initiative was laudable and should be supported by all because it was an avenue for more women to delve into value addition in agriculture.
“We know what we see abroad when we travel, abundance of food and how they preserve them and we want us to replicate such here.
“This is a good cause and I have been part of it when it was birthed and I told the founder to go ahead and I gave her my support.
“I am offering the initiative an acre of land from my farm to strengthen the work they are doing. They could use it to site a processing plant for the members,’’ he said.
Mr Toyin Suarau, the Lagos State Commissioner of Agriculture, said that it was the state’s major objective to empower women in agriculture.
Suarau said the state government had closely supported the private sector, hence the support it would give to the UWIACI.
He said that women contributed about 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in the developing countries and there should not be any form of bias against them.
Other speakers at the event also pledged their support and commended the initiative, noting that women were drivers of innovation, development and sustainability.
The inauguration was tagged: Women Agro-Economic Empowerment, a Tool for Sustainable National Development.