Journalists from West and Central Africa on Thursday toured the Research and Development (R&D) centre in Abidjan to familiarise themselves with how Nestlé harnesses its expertise in food science and technologies to add value to African traditional raw materials.
The journalists numbering 18 were drawn from Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire.
The visit organised by Nestlé Central and West Africa Limited, was also to enable the journalists discover the technology of plantlet propagation, also known as embrayogenesis somatic, which addresses the problem of disease and ageing cocoa and coffee that disturbs farmers.
The technology also helps to renew the orchard with high yielding disease-resistant trees.
Briefing the media in Abidjan, Professor Serigne Diop, Head of the Nestlé Abidjan R&D Centre said the Centre, the first of its kind in Africa, was opened on April 30, 2009 to improve the the quality of locally sourced raw material s which included cocoa, coffee and cassava as well as adapting these products to the nutritional needs and tastes of consumers in the sub-region.
He said the centre was focused on meeting the needs and demands of African consumers through local raw material development as well as the development of nutritious ingredients by using the state of – the – art technologies.
“As an integral part of Nestlé’s extensive worldwide network of 26 R&D locations, for Food and Beverage, the Abidjan Centre provides Nestlé businesses in Africa, especially in Central and West Africa Region with expertise in nutrition, food science and tecnologies, processing and packaging as well as African traditional raw materials and ingredients,” he said.
The Centre, he said, had been at the forefront of identifying and addressing the different nutritional gaps in diet by fortifying its products with the needed nutrients.
He explained that the Centre after its establishment had been committed to invest more than CHF 110 million to support the cocoa centre within 10 years.
This amount he said would help to implement the creation of propagation laboratory for the multiplication of cocoa and coffee plantlets through the process of embrayogenesis somatic.
The high yielding disease-resistance plant materials have been distributed to farmers to improve significantly the quality of cocoa, increasing farmers income and contribute to the sustainability of both cocoa and coffee farming in Cote d’Ivoire.
Ms Peggy Diby, Nestlé Central and West Africa Regional Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, said Nestlé was committed to rural development in Africa and had a principle of Creating Shared Value,which she described as its way of doing business.
“By engaging the media, we can showcase to others how meaningful development could be brought to the underserved communities in a more positive partnership between the private sector, state actors and the the people,” she added. GNA