The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which has been adopted by most countries including Nigeria, seeks to achieve an end to hunger, food security, improved nutrition as well as promote sustainable agriculture through the institutionalization of best practice policies by both public and private sector players.
For Nigeria’s major food sector and agro-allied sector players, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Facts behind the Sustainability Reporting platform, which recently hosted the Flour Mills of Nigeria as the first from the sector, presents a verifiable instrument for showcasing companies’ committed efforts in driving Nigeria’s goal of attaining food security.
Providing insight on the importance of the landmark event for Nigeria’s food sector and agro-allied companies, Group CEO Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Mr Oscar Onyema said: “We count it a great success when more companies publish reports on performance on their key environmental, social and governance indicators as well as their commitments to creating a sustainable future… We commend the Board and executive management of FMN for leading the charge to advance sustainability in the food and agro-allied sector, especially the priority given sustainability by the new management led by Mr Omoboyede Olusanya.”.
Onyema added further that the group was pleased that FMN chose to leverage the platform of sustainability reporting series, which is Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) referenced and aligned with sustainability reporting guidelines.
He disclosed that studies have also shown that sustainability reporting influences a company’s performance, as it can serve as a learning process for an organization to better understand and manage its impact on people and the planet, while also managing risks and managing new opportunities and identifying key actions towards creating a sustainable future.
Indeed while agricultural productivity growth will increase food availability and benefit consumers to the extent that domestic prices are lower than they would otherwise be, it is important for producers to show a conscientious roadmap and their sustainable initiatives for attaining the set out objectives.
The WEF 2020 Global Risk Report was for the first time dominated by environmental concerns, as climate change continues to be a looming global risk and second most impactful long-term global risk identified in 2021.
Describing the report as a testament to FMN’s development journey, the company’s CEO/GM, Mr Omoboyede Olusanya, stated that the report provides insight into the Group’s commitment as a business to continue to engage in the most sustainable practices which directly impacts on our environment, economic and social performance.
“The Report also sets out clearly, our strategy to remain the number one food brand that is focused on providing daily nourishment for Nigerian families, having shared such deep ties with the country for over 60 years. As one of the largest and most diverse food and agro-allied groups in Nigeria, we understand the importance of collaborating across the food value chain for mutual benefit. As such, we have over the years invested heavily in the development of a unique self-sustaining ecosystem that ensures our business is properly positioned to navigate existing and emerging macroeconomic conditions while guaranteeing the sustainable growth for the group in the future,” he expatiated.
It is noteworthy that FMN is not the only quoted agro-allied company on the NSE, so it is expected that the others will borrow a leaf from FMN and showcase their own individual efforts in sustainable food production, in sync with Nigeria’s quest for food security and the attainment of the SDGs, most of which include a significant number of interconnected objectives related to agriculture and food.
Onyema, further drove home the point when he stated that publishing sustainability report, demonstrates a company’s support for the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
According to available data, 80 per cent of companies now report on sustainability globally and 5 exchanges have written guidance on ESG disclosure including Nigeria and three others from Africa.
The private sector remains the major driver of large agricultural investment needed both to raise incomes and increase the supply of food sustainably; on the other hand, governments should also strive to establish the necessary framework conditions as well provide incentives to encourage committed efforts of companies and investors making a difference.
However corporate entities primary objective of publishing performance reports on key environmental, social and governance indicators as well as their commitments to creating a sustainable future should stem from a desire to build a long-lasting mutually beneficial relationship with their customers and their host communities.
As portrayed by the words of Olusanya: “Sustainability reporting continues to form a core part of our business from the perspectives of having the ability to operate cooperatively and happily within the Nigerian environment and our desire to comply with stock exchange requirements, but most importantly our desire to be a sustainability benchmark within Nigeria.”