By Edoamaowo Udeme
The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), signed a new private sector partnership with Emzor Food and Beverages Limited, a woman-owned Nigerian company. According to a release from the US Embassy Nigeria today, USAID and Emzor will build a medical-grade groundnut paste processing facility. Groundnut paste is an essential ingredient in life-saving Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a treatment for malnourished children.
Speaking at today’s 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 U.S. 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 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.”
Dr. Stella 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.”
“In Nigeria, 3.6 million children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), concentrated mainly in northern states”.
The statement also noted that “Approximately 50 percent of deaths in Nigerian children under the age of five result from malnutrition. RUTF, an energy-packed paste made from groundnut paste, oil, sugar, milk powder, vitamin and mineral supplements is the standard treatment for SAM. Treatment with RUTF successfully brings 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”.