The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Edo State government has opened pineapple and cassava factories in the state, operated by a business cooperative, consisting of returnees and unemployed youth, and the private sector.
The project is part of IOM’s integrated approach to sustainable reintegration.
A statement on the IOM website said the new facility will employ 42 Nigerian returnees and local youth.
Those employed at the factory will receive technical and vocational training under a project funded by GIZ.
The pineapple factory was the first community-based reintegration project to launch in Nigeria. According to IOM, besides the direct hires, it will indirectly benefit 250 individuals, their families, as well as farmer associations and residents of Iguobazuwa, Edo State.
“Pineapple coming from this state ends up in cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kaduna,” said Efedosa Eghobamien, a private sector actor who partnered with the returnee cooperative. “But now we’ll be able to process it here under the brand name ‘Fresh One’. We will be able to produce juice and jam and we hope that by 2021 we will be able to use fully organic pineapple.”
The plant aims at involving returning migrants in income-generating activities together with their home communities, to promote inclusive local development while also reducing the socio-economic challenges.
On the other hand, the cassava factory was launched in the town of Ehor, providing job opportunities for 25 returning migrants and youth, and indirectly benefiting 150 individuals in the community, according to IOM.
“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning, and we hope that this project will help our community grow higher and higher,” said Michael, Chairman, Iguobazuwa Pineapple Juice Cooperative.
Since April 2017, some 16,102 stranded migrants – including 1,200 victims of trafficking – have voluntarily returned to Nigeria as part of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. Thirty-five per cent of these returnees cite better employment opportunities as their main reason for leaving.
“As part of promoting sustainable reintegration in our various communities, we believe that we must lend our voices to acknowledge and celebrate the positive role of the returnees here in Nigeria,” said Franz Celestin, IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission.
Prior to the opening of the factories, returnees were engaged in temporary jobs including rehabilitating community infrastructure such as local markets as well as conducting environmental cleaning. In addition to being employed, the returnees are also shareholders of the factory.
The community-based reintegration projects are implemented under the framework of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.