By Ndumbe Bell Gaston in Douala
Nestle Cameroon and invited media practitioners met at their Bonaberi Central African Tropical cluster factory to seek suggestions on their way forward and made presentations to appreciate their contributions in improving the health, well-being through the fortification of micronutrients to eliminate food deficiencies, remind society about their decades-old social responsibilities or shared values and their contributions to the economy.
For these and other reasons the Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Head Rostand Banzeu, last Thursday September 20, told the panel that inviting the press was a way of being transparent to the entire public on what they do at the production units including the laboratory controls, to maintain and regularly innovate, to improve the health standards of society.
Nestle is over 50 years old in Cameroon with a present workforce of over 500. Cameroon is now at the hub of the Central African Tropical Clusters with a population of 31 million inhabitants supplied by this factory. Banzeu explained that because of their concerns towards the benefits of their workers, the individual’s well-being, community or rural development, Nestle introduced the fortification of their products as a way of supplying important food nutrients like iron, iodide and other minerals, to make these affordable to income-handicapped individuals by so doing minimize food deficiencies. Products such as Maggi, Nido and Cerelac have been fortified, thanks to their Research and Development headquarters in Abidjan.
Hilaire Yeye who represented the new Douala Factory Director Toure Katia replacing Talla Fall all of them Senegalese, said there are eleven other departmental heads under him. He said Nestle has embarked in programs like the Safe Way Right Way (SWRW), a road safety project which has sensitized 120.000 road users since its inception. The factory, aside from providing access to portable water to the community, has environmental concerns where, in 2017, achieved zero waste disposal through what they call effluent treatments before it is released to the environment to respect the factory’s ISO certificate standards. The Nestle Healthy Kids program meant to acquaint families on simple but nutritive food ingredients touched 15.000 children during their sensitization efforts in the nation.
Later, under Yeye’s supervision, media practitioners had detailed explanations of all the production units of the factory under meticulous and strict hygienic conditions, during the practicals session. Patrick Epanda talked about the ongoing fight to improve minerals and vitamins deficiencies through the fortification process, in brief.
In a question and answer session, media practitioners called for major reforms in the use of more local raw materials in the production process to raise more community participation. There were calls to reform their highly monopolistic distribution policy which is now in the hands of only 5 or so major distributors in the nation. The pressmen asked Nestle to be publishing their balance sheet to show financial transparency. Media practitioners called for better conditions after a long day’s session and equally appreciated the contributions made by Nestle Cameroon including the employment of youths to sell hot coffee in streets under their supervision.