Olam buys cocoa from a network of 650,000 farmers. © Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images
Olam buys cocoa from a network of 650,000 farmers. © Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

Cocoa supplier aims to improve farmers' lives

posted by Lucy Patchett
29 October 2019

Global cocoa supplier Olam Cocoa has announced commitments to raise incomes for farmers, increase protection for forests and eliminate child labour.

In a report called Cocoa Compass, the company outlined goals around ensuring prosperous farmers and farming systems, supporting thriving communities and reducing the environmental impact.

Olam aims to ensure that 150,000 cocoa farmers in its supplier network are earning the living income by 2030, with at least 60,000 earning it by 2024.

According to Fairtrade International, in 2018 the extreme poverty line for an average cocoa growing family in Côte d’Ivoire was estimated at $2,300 per year. The defined living income line is $7,300.

The company has worked in collaboration with NGOs Fair Labor Association and the International Cocoa Initiative to build the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) with the aim of eliminating child labour in the supply chain by 2030.

The CLMRS currently covers 95,000 cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The project involves a combination of collecting data and tracking incidents of child labour, and educating the community on protecting their children and mitigation of dangerous situations. 

The company aims to provide access to education for the children of all farmers in the supply chain by 2030.

The move follows recent reports of child labour and deforestation on certified farms in Côte d’Ivoire.

As part of investing in the environment, the firm said it would increase carbon tree stock, which is measured by “the amount of land being used for cocoa farming versus the amount of forest in the supply chain, as well as the quality of the trees and agroforestry systems”. Also 1.3m trees have been distributed over the past 15 years.

Gerard Manley, CEO at Olam Cocoa, said: “For over a decade with our customers and partners, we have been present on the ground, supporting cocoa communities around the world to improve their livelihoods and protect forests, while also providing a stable route to market for farmers through in-country cocoa processing. 

“With our living income goal, we are focusing our efforts on supporting the farmers we believe can be the backbone of a sustainable cocoa supply chain, while continuing to provide holistic support to all cocoa farmers in our sustainability programmes. We know there is still more to do which is why we are challenging ourselves, and the industry, to have an even greater positive impact on the future of cocoa.”

The company said it had achieved its pledge to bring 100% traceability to its direct cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana ahead of a 2020 target. 

Olam has also provided over 64,000 tailored farm development plans to increase farmers’ income and crop yields. It has trained 240,000 farmers in good agricultural practice in the last 15 years. 

Andrew Brooks, head of cocoa sustainability at Olam Cocoa, said: “Transparency and traceability are core to Cocoa Compass. We remain focused on leveraging social and environmental insights to refine our sustainability programmes to meet the needs of farmers and their communities.”

The company said it procures cocoa beans from a network of over 650,000 cocoa farmers.

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