Olam Nigeria Funds 12,000 Farmers with N536m – Olam Nigeria Limited has stated it granted more than N536 million as funding for 12,000 Nigerian cocoa, cashew as well as sesame farmers in 2014 under the Olam Livelihood Charter (OLC).
The leading agri-business company in Nigeria, which revealed this as it released its the annual results of OLC as at the year ended December 31, 2014, pointed out that the financing was made available to farmers as short-term micro-financing, advances for crop purchases and mid-term loans for the procurement of farming inputs.
According to a statement signed by Head Corporate and Government Relations, Olam Nigeria, Ade Adefeko, as the OLC enters its fourth year, the charter sets stringent standards for supporting smallholder communities in Olam’s networks through eight principles.
The principles, according to Olam Nigeria, are financial support, improved yields, better labour practices, market access, improved crop quality, traceability, social investment and minimising environmental impact. It said only by meeting all eight of these principles can a sustainability programme be awarded OLC status.
According to the statement, three of Olam International’s 30 flagship OLC initiatives are in Nigeria, where Olam works with cashew, cocoa and sesame smallholder farmers.
It stated that this programme was in collaboration with TechnoServe based in Washington and New York-based Rainforest Alliance as well as other local agronomists in Nigeria.
The statement noted that these and other initiatives provide zero interest financing and agri-inputs, training on good agricultural and labour practices, as well as social investment in the community.
It noted that such investment include providing educational materials, creating bore wells for safe water, building a police station and school, development of local roads and the installation of solar-powered lighting.
The statement said since the OLC’s launch in 2010, the number of Nigerian farmers benefitting from all eight OLC principles has risen to over 12,000 small-scale farmers, spanning almost 25,000 hectares of cultivated land.
Highlights from 2014 OLC initiatives in Nigeria include working with 12,000 farmers in Osun, Ondo and Cross River for cocoa. Also, Kwara and Oyo farmers were assisted for the production of cashew while Jigawa, Bauchi, Nasarawa and Benue farmers were supported for sesame, with about 18 per cent of the total farmers being women.
Olam also gave a total of 578 training days to farmers for them to imbibe good agricultural practices among others.
In his comment, Adamu Sani, a sesame farmer from Kirikasama village in Jigawa state, said “Olam Nigeria is the only company that has come to our village to conduct a workshop on training farmers.
“Not only that, they introduced improved sesame seeds which they distributed to farmers free of charge. More than 95 per cent of my fellow villagers are benefitting from Olam Nigeria,” Sani said.
In addition to the OLC programmes, Olam Nigeria has launched an outgrower programme around its rice farm in Nasarawa State, in collaboration with USAID and the National Agricultural Development Programme.
Rice farmers in the surrounding areas are also supported with training and high-quality seeds from Olam’s farm in order to improve their paddy yields. The paddy is then purchased by Olam at a fair market price and sold locally.
Currently 3,000 farmers are engaged in the programme, with a target of 16,000 by 2018. Olam Nigeria Country Head, Mukul Mathur, said Olam Nigeria had grown a lot in its 25 years of operation.
“We’ve grown from exporting cashew to investing along the whole agri-supply chain, from wheat milling and rice farming to manufacturing family favourites such as Tasty Tom tomato paste – employing around 8,500 Nigerians.
“And where we are able to work directly with smallholders, we are proud to see the principles of the Olam Livelihood Charter helping them to increase yields and quality. Our commitment to Nigeria and its ambition to provide food security is unshakeable,” Mathur added.
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