Nestlé has inaugurated a new experimental farm on a 30-hectare site in Côte d’Ivoire to focus on plant science and research into nutrition, sustainable agriculture and rural development.
The farm, located at Zambakro, some 18km from the capital, Yamoussoukro, will create 20 jobs by 2014.
The ceremony was attended by Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan.
The farm will develop better varieties of key raw materials for Nestlé - namely cocoa and coffee - as well as traditional African cereals - like millet, sorghum and maize - and root crops, like cassava and yam.
“Our research will help improve the nutritional value and yield of our raw materials, to address nutritional needs around the world,” said Johannes Baensch, Nestlé’s Head of Research and Development at the opening ceremony.
The farm will also provide training in the latest agricultural techniques to Ivorian farmers, co-operatives and other partners.
“Our investment in this farm is a significant step in our journey to sustainable agriculture, rural development and high quality nutrition for Africa and beyond,” he added.
The centre will feature a mini propagation laboratory, where high-yielding plantlets for distribution to cocoa and coffee farmers will be grown. It will also host a breeding programme for new varieties of coffee and a soil fertility lab.
The opening of the farm, which also features demonstration plots for practical training, was welcomed by the Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Agriculture, Sangafowa Coulibaly, who said it would help boost agricultural productivity and competitiveness.
“It will be a platform for training and learning which will help develop a new generation of farmers, giving them the technical skills and a readiness to take on and succeed with new agricultural projects,” he said.
The Zambakro facility is part of Nestlé’s Research and Development Centre in Abidjan (pdf, 3.3Mb), which, in turn, is part of Nestlé’s global network of research and development facilities.
The Zambakro farm will work particularly closely with Nestlé’s research centre in the French city of Tours, which has developed innovative propagation techniques to deliver high-yielding cocoa plants to farmers in Côte d'Ivoire and is breeding productive plants to improve the lives of cocoa farmers worldwide.
The farm aims to provide an estimated 27 million coffee plants and 12 million cocoa plants by 2020 to rejuvenate plantations in the Ivory Coast, improving both yields and livelihoods for farmers.
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