Olam celebrates International Day of Co-operatives
The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Cooperatives was celebrated this year on the 4th of July. The day’s goals are to increase awareness of co-operatives, as well as strengthen and extend partnerships between the international co-operative (co-op) movement and other supporting organisations, including governments. With over 50% of global agriculture being marketed through co-operatives, we are acutely aware of the importance of co-ops to our business, which allow us to source crops grown by almost 3.9 million small-scale farmers around the world, the co-ops and similar farmer group structures also facilitate the provision of training, microfinance and other support to many of these smallholders.
One example of how we work with co-operatives is through an initiative which focuses on sustainably and responsibly securing the future of cocoa in producing regions in Indonesia. Starting in 2004 with only 6 co-operatives and 2,400 farmers, this has now increased to 87 cooperatives and over 26,800 farmers in just seven years. By bringing together partners’ combined skills, investment and commitment, the results demonstrate how co-ops can improve cocoa yields and quality, as well as the livelihoods of farmers and their communities.
In Côte d’Ivoire, we work with more than 1,000 co-operatives, one of which was started by Mme Amenan Constantine Kouadio. Constantine approached the Olam Ivoire team in 2008 with a proposal for a satellite cashew peeling unit, and we provided the training and equipment she needed to establish a unit run by her co-op in Djekanou, 80% of whom are women. Constantine’s co-op is empowering local women, catalysing the economy of her hometown and reducing gender inequality – this year’s International Day of Cooperatives theme. In her own words: “The town is more alive now, the housing market has exploded as people are building and buying better places to live and, most importantly for me, women can now look after their children without having to depend on anyone else.”