There was an air of excitement in the Ijoko community in Sango Ota, Ogun State on Thursday 15th January 2015, as government officials, dignitaries, traditional rulers, partners and friends convened to officially commission the factory of AACE Food Processing & Distribution Ltd.
This company, established by Mezuo Nwuneli and Ndidi Nwuneli, sources herbs, grains, cereals and vegetables from smallholder farmers across Nigeria and processes them into spices, complementary food and flours for FMCGs, quick service restaurants, caterers, and the Nigerian populace. Its current product line consists of nine spices and seasonings which are sold in leading retail outlets such as Shoprite, GAME and Park ‘n Shop. The company also produces Soyamaize fortified with vitamins and minerals, which is a complete meal and fights moderate malnutrition, moringa and bulk commodities such as bean flour, chili, ginger and soya which are used by noodle, pastry and biscuit manufacturers.
In his opening remarks, Mezuo Nwuneli, the Chairman of AACE Foods reinforced the company’s commitment to working with smallholder farmers across Nigeria. He stated that AACE Foods has partnered with key international development agencies to develop a local supply chain. To date, the company works with over 800 farmers and it will extend this partnership to 5,000 farmers by 2018.
AACE trains, facilitates microfinance bodies and provides farmer clusters with storage technology. This direct relationship has enabled the company to build reliable sources of raw materials and to improve the lives of small holder farmers. He also noted that with the commissioning of its factory in Sango Ota, the company has installed new equipment which will enable it to increase its capacity to seven tons per day, produce more high quality products for the Nigerian populace, while also making social impact.
The keynote speaker for the event, Prof. Ogunmoyela, a director of AACE Foods and Dean of the College of Food Sciences at Bells University, underscored the critical role that companies such as AACE Foods play in addressing the food security crises in Nigeria and stemming the high rates of post-harvest losses and rampant importation in the country.
Larry Umunna of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) praised AACE Foods’ efforts to address malnutrition in Nigeria and recognized its Soyamaize product focused on addressing moderate malnutrition in Nigeria. He pledged his support to AACE Foods and other agroprocessors that are committed to promoting nutrition.
The special guest of honour, the First Lady of Ogun State, Olufunso Amosun commended the visionary efforts of the AACE Foods’ founders, its dynamic board and staff. She lauded the efforts of the company to engage women and support small holder farmers in Nigeria. The Ogun State Honourable Commissioner of Commerce, Trade & Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, the chief host of the event, also commended the company’s efforts to create jobs in Ogun State. He officially commissioned the factory on behalf of the Executive Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Other dignitaries who attend the event included AACE Foods Board members – Brig. Gen. Tunde Reis (RTD), Nnenna Onyewuchi, Dr. U.K. Acholonu, the Oba of Ijoko, the Local Government Chairman – Hon. Rotimi Rahman, Dr. Nadu Denloye, representatives of NAFDAC, FIIRO and IFDC, and AACE Foods customers such as Flour Mills, Promasidor, Honeywell and other representatives of the Sango Ota community.