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Nestle to Invest $1.4bn to Boost Cocoa Production, Farmers’ Income, Lessen Child Labour

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Top chocolate producer, Nestlé has revealed plans to continue expanding its cocoa sustainability efforts, through investing a combined $1.41 billion by 2030.

The investment, which is thrice Nestlé’s current annual investment, is part of an innovative income accelerator program, which aims to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farming families in West Africa.

According to the Swiss international food and drink processing firm, the program covers cash incentives for farming families to reduce the level of high child labour, especially in cocoa-growing nations like Ivory Coast, Ghana, etc.

The University of Chicago, in a recent study, disclosed that about 45% of children in agricultural households in Ivory Coast and Ghana cocoa farming areas were engaged in child labor.

Recently, chocolate-producing companies have come under pressure by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and other global organisations to invest in cocoa-farming communities facing dire challenges, including widespread rural poverty, lack of access to financial services and basic infrastructures like water, health care, and education. These are factors that increase child labour as children support their families in cocoa production.

Nestlé’s cash incentives will be paid directly to cocoa-farming households for certain activities such as enrollment of children in school, the company stated.

The company’s CEO, Mark Schneider during a webcast on Thursday said, “Nestle’s new initiative focuses on the root causes for child labour and the living income gap farmers and their families face… Our goal is to have an additional tangible, positive impact on a growing number of cocoa-farming families, especially in areas where poverty is widespread and resources are scarce, and to help close the living income gap they face over time.

“Building on our longstanding efforts to source cocoa sustainably, we will continue to help children go to school, empower women, improve farming methods and facilitate financial resources. We believe that, together with governments, NGOs, and others in the cocoa industry, we can help improve the lives of cocoa farming families and give children the chance to learn and grow in the safe and healthy environment they deserve.”

The KitKat Chocolate and Smarties confectionery producer stated that the Accelerator Program will aid the company to transform its global sourcing of cocoa through a fully traceable, directly sourced supply chain by 2025.

In 2021, 51% of the cocoa Nestlé used was directly sourced and traceable, versus 46% in 2020. By 2025, the company expressed that it fully wants to trace 100% of its cocoa back to specific farms under its in-house sustainability scheme, the Nestle Cocoa Plan.

“We’re very confident this will be a game changer on the road to reducing the risk of child labour,” Nestlé Head of Operations, Magdi Batato said in an interview with Reuters.

To qualify for the payments from Nestle, farmers must send their children to school, prune cocoa trees, plant shade trees and diversify their income with other crops or livestock.

Then each farmer, irrespective of the tonnes of cocoa produced by them, will directly receive cash payments via mobile transfer of up to 500 Swiss francs ($543) a year.

This, according to Batato represented 20-25% of a farmer’s average annual income. The incentive will then be levelled at 250 francs after two years and progressively extended to all of Nestle’s 160,000 cocoa farmers by 2030.

In an interview, Nestlé Head of Confectionery, Alexander von Maillot said, “An incentive to the household is much more inclusive of the smaller farmers, really making sure that nobody gets left out.”

To ensure that children really are attending school and farmers are following the rules, Nestlé disclosed that The Sustainable Trade Initiative will monitor the programme with other third parties. It also explained that children helping on family farms outside of school time do not fall under the International Labour Organization’s description of child labour.

 

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Merger and Acquisition

Otedola Moves to Sell Part of Geregu Power Plc to FEDA

Afreximbank to acquire part of Geregu Power plant

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Billionaire Femi Otedola-owned energy company, Geregu Power Plc is in talks with the Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA) for the acquisition of part of the energy company.

The company stated in a statement signed by Akinleye Olagbende, Company Secretary and made available on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

Geregu Power hereby notifies “Nigerian Exchange Limited (the Exchange) and the investing public of its discussions with the Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA) for the acquisition of a portion of Geregu Power Plc shares. FEDA is the impact development arm of the Africa Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank),” the company stated.

According to the energy firm, talks are presently ongoing and “where these talks progress to a more advanced stage, the company will notify the Exchange and the investing public in line with the rules of the Exchange.”

In October, Geregu Power listed 2.5 billion shares at N100 a unit on the Main Board of the NGX. This puts the company’s market value at N250 billion and also in a better position it to raise capital to bid for Geregu II as it is presently doing.

Speaking on the listing, the Chairman, Board of Directors, Mr. Femi Otedola, CON, said “the listing of the company was the actualization of a vision to bring world-class standards in governance sustainability, and business processes to the Company and the Nigerian electricity sector.”

He added that “listing on the Main Board of the Exchange will ensure that the long-term growth of the company is assured and its benefits will be passed on to our esteemed shareholders”.

Otedola is the largest shareholder in FirstBank and also holds a 99% stake in Amperion Power, the owner of the Geregu Power Plant.

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Merger and Acquisition

Access Bank Acquires Indirect Stake in Sigma Pensions

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Access Holdings on Friday announced it has completed the acquisition of an indirect equity stake in Sigma and the merger of its subsidiary, First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL) with Sigma.

According to the bank, following the sanction of the Scheme of Merger between Sigma and FGPL by the Federal High Court on December 1, 2022, FGPL has been dissolved without winding up leaving Sigma as the surviving entity, according to Access Holdings.

Commenting on the transaction, Dr Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive of the Corporation, said “Following the successful completion of the merger, our plan is to leverage the synergies of these entities, as well as the Corporation’s expansive distribution network, strong risk management culture and best-in-class governance standards to create a formidable pension funds administration business.”

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Company News

Dangote Group Dismisses Rumours of Plan to Rise Cement Price

Dangote Cement says no price increase

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Africa’s leading cement producer, Dangote Cement Plc has dismissed the rumor that it plans to increase the price of its products.

The clarification became necessary following a recent publication that Dangote Cement plans a fresh increase.

Recently, there has been some publication (Not Investors King) about a potential increase in the price of cement. The publications noted that the increase will be a result of the high cost of fuel among other prevailing issues. 

According to the Senior Manager, branding and communication, Dangote Industries Limited, Mr Sunday Esan, “Dangote Cement is not embarking on a price increase”, stating that the increase is mere speculation.

Meanwhile, Dangote Cement in the third quarter of 2022, recorded an increase in the overall volume of cement sales by 6.2 percent to 20.8 metric tons in the third quarter of 2022.

According to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Michel Puchercos, this was achieved, despite the elevated inflation caused by a very volatile global environment.

Similarly, while speaking on the increase in the price of fuel, Puchercos said “to mitigate the impact of the significant increase in energy and AGO costs, we are strengthening our efforts to ramp up the usage of alternative fuels”.

“We are on track to commission our Alternative Fuel feed system at Obajana lines I and V, and Ibese line II in November. In addition, we are ramping up our investment in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), to reduce our AGO usage,” he added. 

Investors King understands that Dangote Cement is Africa’s leading cement producer with nearly 51.6Mta capacity across Africa. Although it has a few competitors which include BUA Cement, the company supplies most parts of Nigeria.

In addition, Dangote Cement has operations in 10 African countries. 

Its production plant in Obajana, Kogi state, is the largest in Africa with 16.25Mta of capacity across five lines while the Ibese plant in Ogun state has four cement lines with a combined installed capacity of 12Mta.

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