BusinessDay

FMN: Driving sustainability in waste management, food security

Over the past century, Nigeria’s food system has gradually but persistently transformed from a subsistence-based food cultivation structure to an industrialized system with various processing operations and distributions.

This system often further lengthens the distance between food sources and consumers. Also, within this same stated period, the world has become increasingly aware of the challenges and threats to food security as it relates to access to food for a significant number of people.

The intensification of the major drivers behind recent food insecurity and malnutrition trends globally as conflict, climate extremes, and economic shocks combined with the high cost of nutritious foods and growing inequalities continue to challenge food security.

To bridge this widening food availability gap and address the SDG blueprint of Zero hunger, sustainable agricultural practices, and food systems, including both production and consumption, must be pursued from a holistic and integrated perspective.

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Proactively and strategically driving food and nutrition security in the food and agro-allied sector in Nigeria is Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN), providers of superior quality products and owners of the iconic food brand ‘Golden Penny’.

As one of the largest and most diverse food and agro-allied groups in Nigeria listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, FMN understands the importance of collaborating across the food value chain to ensure the attainment of food security in Nigeria.

“In our 2020/2021 Sustainability Report, we lay bare the present and future of sustainability at FMN, sharing the lessons the pandemic year has taught us and highlighting how we thrived through these peculiar times,” John Coumantaros, chairman of the FMN Group said in the firm’s 2021 sustainability report.

“We also demonstrate how we as an organization are constantly striving to become more sustainability-focused, by building capacity, better managing our environmental, economic, social, and governance (ESG) risks, and most importantly, taking deliberate actions that are capable of not only delivering financial returns but meeting our sustainability goals,” he added.

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FMN has over the years invested heavily in the development of a unique self-sustaining ecosystem that ensures its businesses are properly positioned to navigate existing and emerging macroeconomic conditions while guaranteeing sustainable growth for the group in the future.

The company has made great strides in advancing its corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals and has taken a strong lead in repositioning the food sector, focused on reforming its supply chain from the local level of food production.

FMN has been working with hundreds of farms to secure supply chain cultivation contracts, and to establish long-lasting changes at each step of its production cycle.

As an environmentally responsible organization, FMN makes use of more energy-efficient technologies across its factories and plants by fostering innovations and implementing creative solutions.

In its cassava, wheat, edible oil, and sugar mills, FMN constantly introduced newer and more innovative technologies to reduce its carbon footprint. Nigeria’s leading food and the agro-allied firm has also made significant progress in its sustainable and responsible waste management and packaging journey. It has implemented an integrated waste management strategy to promote the recycling of resources where possible.

Similarly, FMN in its waste management and environmental protection duty care has installed a wastewater treatment plant (WWT), with a capacity of treating 250 cubic meters of effluent per day at Golden Penny Pasta, Iganmu.

It has also designed fit-for-purpose initiatives to reduce, reuse or recycle waste generated from its operations as such initiatives have enabled FMN to recycle 303,250kg of packaging during 2021 and saved the company N257.76 million in the period.

Regularly, FMN ensures that its vendors that carry out the evacuation of all waste including hazardous wastes are duly accredited Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) with valid certification issued.

The company has formed a partnership with environmental experts to create efficient farming practices that both maximize the profit of certain products and have a minimal negative environmental impact.

Furthermore, FMN has also adopted more climate-friendly designs that feature low noise pollution and dust extraction monitoring systems. It is an organization that has designed its processes and impact assessment to be as retrospective as they are introspective and prospective. FMN continues to place its responsibility first on the planet, and its people, and returns.

So far, the company’s standing on the newly released ESG guidelines by the NSE is heartening. Food scientists employed by the organization now work together with agriculturists, nutritionists, civil society, and governments to develop an integrative approach to feeding a growing population sustainably.

During the pandemic in Nigeria, the company’s performance was particularly exemplary, as its commitment to addressing social issues was greatly demonstrated in its support to host communities and government to manage the Covid-19 impact in the country.

FMN has produced products centered on various philanthropic causes. It has recently partnered with both government and private sector organizations to organize events where its products were served making sustainability a key pillar of the brand’s consumer outreach.

Several new and old farmers are seeing impressive and rapid growth due to the innovative solutions that FMN has introduced to their operations.

The company’s grains and sugarcane farms in Kaboji and Sunti are projects which researchers and farmers are using to explore how sustainable agro practices can transform the way businesses are conducted in the decades to come.

The need to create value further back into the supply chain and reduce the country’s dependence on imported raw materials has made FMN focus on the strategy of backward integration to maintain growth and sustainable profitability.

Under its backward integration programme, FMN has invested heavily in the last 10 years to execute its core business strategy of aiding the country’s agricultural sector. The investment has been made mainly in primary agriculture and infrastructure.

To support smallholder farmers and help drive self-sufficiency in local production, FMN supports the production of raw materials locally wherever possible to ensure that good quality, fair value products are developed through the full supply chain from growing to final consumer consumption – from farm to fork.

“Our commitment drives our continuous focus on local content development to strengthen the capacity of our suppliers. This is rooted in our responsible business approach, backward integration investments, and strategic partnership with the Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN),” said Boye Olusanya, group managing director and chief executive officer, FMN.

“We have scaled our local procurement process as 30.55percent of our procurement budget was spent on local vendors in 2020. These vendors make up 95percent of our total supplier,” he said.

“We are using a significant percentage of locally sourced ingredients to produce the new breakfast cereal ‘Amaizing Day’, and we have added indigenous flavours to our menus, such as Golden Penny Jollof noodles and Goat meat pepper soup noodles,” he added.

The organization has over the years created community-based impacts which include advocacy and partnerships, farmer connectivity, and operational support including high-quality fertilizers, and inputs, combined with agronomic support that is expected to triple production and feed more people across the country.

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