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Nigeria’s Stella Okoli Partners With US Government to Combat Malnutrition

On Thursday, August 10, the United States government, through USAID, formed a new private-sector partnership with Emzor Food and Beverages Limited, which is owned by Nigerian multimillionaire Stella Okoli.

This collaborative project intends to build a cutting-edge processing facility for medical-grade groundnut paste, a key component of life-saving ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) used to treat malnourished children.

SAM affects 3.6 million children in Nigeria, with the majority of cases concentrated in northern areas.

Malnutrition accounts for over half of all fatalities among Nigerian children under the age of five. The gold standard treatment for SAM is RUTF, a very nutritious paste made from groundnut paste, oil, sugar, milk powder, and vitamin and mineral supplements. Its efficient use revives SAM-affected children by providing critical nutrients, bringing them back from the edge of death.

After depending on expensive imported groundnut paste from Argentina and India for years, Nigeria is prepared to reinvent its strategy with this breakthrough cooperation.

The collaboration will allow the country to administer locally made RUTF, providing a more accessible and sustainable option while also improving the livelihoods of Nigerian groundnut farmers.

Emzor and USAID, both genuinely devoted to reducing malnutrition in Nigeria, have each given $1 million to the establishment of a UNICEF-approved groundnut paste manufacturing facility, the second of its kind on the African continent.

During the signing event, USAID Mission Director Dr. Anne Patterson thanked Okoli, Emzor’s managing director, for pushing this initiative and joining forces with the US government.

Dr. Patterson stated: “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.”

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.”

Okoli, 79, established Emzor Pharmaceuticals in 1984 as a premier pan-African manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies, world-class pharmaceuticals, and surgical equipment.

Today, the company produces around 140 high-quality pharmaceutical goods and medical consumables, such as analgesics, vitamins, haematinics, antimalarials, antitussives, antibiotics, anti-helminthic, antihistamine, antacids, and cardioprotective medications.

The company has annual revenues of $40 million and approximately 1,000 employees.

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