It’s no less welcome, as a symbol of safety and hope in Edo State, where most Nigerian pineapple are harvested, and where almost 40 per cent of all Nigerians returning from abroad come home to.

This week (20/02), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) together with the state government opened a pineapple factory operated by a business cooperative, consisting of returnees and unemployed youth, and the private sector. It is part of IOM’s integrated approach to sustainable reintegration.

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.
It’s the first community-based reintegration project to launch in Nigeria and, besides the direct hires, will indirectly benefit 250 individuals, their families, as well as farmer associations and residents of Iguobazuwa, Edo State.

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“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.

In addition to the pineapple processing factory, another cassava factory was launched in the town of Ehor, Edo State, providing job opportunities for 25 returning migrants and youth, and indirectly benefiting 150 individuals in the community.

Last year, IOM commissioned a pineapple juice processing plant in collaboration with the Edo State government. 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.

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“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.

Community-based reintegration complements the existing individual and collective reintegration modalities and addresses the structural issues of unemployment and social cohesion in the country.

“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 factory, 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.

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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.