To combat malnutrition in Nigeria, where 3.6 million children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), mainly in northern states, the United States government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has signed a new private sector partnership with Emzor Food and Beverages Limited.
After the signing of the partnership between USAID and Emzor, on Thursday, both parties agreed to build a medical-grade groundnut paste processing facility, an essential ingredient in life-saving Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a treatment for malnourished children.
However, this partnership highlights the private sector’s important role in addressing Nigeria’s most difficult development challenges, where 50 per cent of deaths in Nigerian children under the age of five result from malnutrition.
The company will manufacture RUTF, an energy-packed paste made from groundnut paste, oil, sugar, milk powder, and vitamin and mineral supplements to help treat SAM.
Treatment with RUTF has been tested to successfully bring SAM-afflicted children back from the brink of death by providing vital nutrients.
After years of using expensive, imported groundnut paste from Argentina and India, Nigeria, through this game-changing partnership, will be able to treat children with locally produced RUTF, a more affordable and sustainable solution that will also create economic opportunities for Nigerian groundnut farmers.
“Dedicated to reducing the number of malnourished children in Nigeria, Emzor and USAID each contributed $1 million to establish the UNICEF-approved groundnut paste processing facility, which will be one of only two on the African continent,” the statement said.
Speaking at the signing event, USAID Mission Director Dr Anne Patterson thanked Emzor Managing Director Dr Stella Okoli for embarking on the partnership and joining forces with the US Government.
Dr Patterson added, “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 for 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.”
On her part, Dr 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.”