On Thurs., Aug. 10, the U.S. government, represented by USAID, forged a new private sector collaboration with Emzor Food and Beverages Limited, owned by Nigerian multimillionaire Stella Okoli. This joint effort aims to establish a state-of-the-art processing facility for medical-grade groundnut paste, a critical component of life-saving ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), used in treating malnourished children.
Within Nigeria, severe acute malnutrition (SAM) affects 3.6 million children, primarily concentrated in northern states.
Malnutrition contributes to approximately 50 percent of deaths among Nigerian children under the age of five. RUTF, a highly nutritious paste crafted from groundnut paste, oil, sugar, milk powder, and vitamin and mineral supplements, stands as the gold standard treatment for SAM. Its effective deployment revitalizes SAM-affected children by supplying essential nutrients, pulling them back from the brink of mortality.
After years of relying on costly imported groundnut paste from Argentina and India, Nigeria is poised to revolutionize its approach through this transformative alliance.
The partnership will enable the country to administer locally-produced RUTF, offering a more accessible and sustainable solution that simultaneously bolsters the livelihoods of Nigerian groundnut farmers.
Emzor and USAID, deeply committed to curbing the prevalence of malnutrition in Nigeria, have each contributed $1 million to establish a UNICEF-approved groundnut paste processing facility – the second of its kind on the African continent.
During the signing ceremony, USAID Mission Director Dr. Anne Patterson extended gratitude to Okoli, Emzor’s managing director, for championing this endeavor and aligning forces with the U.S. Government.
Dr. Patterson stated: “Together, we will improve access, availability, and acceptability of RUTF, and ultimately contribute to improved treatment for severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria. In addition, the increase in demand of local medical-grade groundnut paste production will create new opportunities for local groundnut farmers, serve as a boon to Nigeria’s agriculture sector, and broaden inclusive economic growth.”
Okoli noted: “This partnership highlights the private sector’s important role in addressing Nigeria’s most difficult development challenges. When complete, the plant will produce 400 kilograms of paste per hour, providing a local solution to severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria.”