By Rita Iliya
PZ Cussons Foundation, a Non-Profit Organisation, on Tuesday donated a shea butter processing facility to a Alubarika Women Cooperative Group in Fazhi community in Edati Local Government Areas of Niger state.
Mrs Jacqueline Ezeokwelume, Executive Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, said at the inauguration of the center that the facility would boost agriculture production in the state.
She said the ultimate objective of the foundation is the total support for agriculture and agro-allied value chain projects is capable of contributing to food security, enhancing smallholder farmers and producers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc is a commercial enterprise dealing with commodities to leading marketing company in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya that manufacture and distribute a range of consumers and durable goods.
Ezeokwelume, who was represented by Mr Peter Ozondu, said the project would empower and address some of the economic challenges faced by women in the area, state and the country at large.
“The new facility is to upgrade their traditional method of production and make them internationally competitive, it will also bring together local processors under one umbrella and organise them into a more formal structure as enterprise.
“The project is an opportunity to give back to the society and we are committed to executing more sustainable projects that will be beneficial to the country,” she said.
Ezeokwelume called on others to emulate the same gesture by harnessing abundant human and natural resources to add value to the products.
In his address, Mohammed Kontagora, President, National Shea Product Association of Nigeria (NSPAN), said that the project was to empower and uplift the economic activities of women at the rural level.
He described women as committed and highly enterprising when given the opportunity to showcase their abilities and promised to support women cooperative groups to meet international standard.
“The project will also serve as an intervention to empower women economically and give individuals greater freedom of choice and action.
“The Shea butter being processed by Fazhi women have been graded as the best and we like their level of commitment,” he said.
Kontagora, however, urged the women and the community to take ownership of the project to add value to their products and warned against felling of economy trees.
In his remarks, Mr Abraham Yisa, a community leader, commended the Board of Trustee of the Foundation for siting the project in the State.
He said it will support government’s effort in diversifying the economy of the State by enhancing productivity in agro allied endeavours at rural levels.
“This project will serve as employment opportunity to women and help them expand their market,” he said.
NAN reports that the facility consists of raw material store, structures for drying, roasting, blending, finished goods store, borehole and other equipment and machineries.