Why agriculture needs re-imagining

Agriculture faces some of the world’s biggest development, economic, and environmental challenges.

Millions of farmers, particularly smallholders, who grow cash crops like cocoa, cashew and cotton, are living at subsistence levels, while natural resources, such as soil and forests, are being degraded or lost at an alarming rate. Meanwhile around a third of all food produced is lost or wasted. With the population set to increase by 2 billion by 2050, we cannot carry on the way we are.

Tackling these issues is a huge task as no issue is isolated. For example, deforestation is often bound up with low yields and poverty. Equally, while many companies like Olam have sustainability programmes in place, we must go beyond what is currently being done today and achieve far greater impact at far greater scale.

We need to ‘Re-imagine Global Agriculture and Food Systems’ so that we are actually putting more back into food and farming systems than is taken out. We call this having a ‘net positive impact’ by creating ‘living landscapes’ where prosperous farmers and thriving communities co-exist with healthy ecosystems. In turn, this will make our business more resilient and identify new and exciting opportunities.

Olam’s Vision & Principles

Our plantation and processing experience, coupled with our breadth of portfolio and year-round presence working with farmers, means that we are in a strong position to achieve this.

It is our ambitious mission to drive transformation in our sector, in an ethical, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way. In our Purpose, we have defined this as ‘Re-imagining Global Agriculture and Food Systems’ within the boundary conditions of Growing Responsibly. 

There are 3 outcomes we intend to achieve through our Purpose:

What do we mean by Growing Responsibly?


Conducting our business in an ethical, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner has been part of our strategy for many years. Growing Responsibly doesn’t just mean protecting the environment and supporting farmers and communities. There are clear commercial factors, such as having a sound business model with strong risk management and governance, so that we protect our investors, shareholders and employees, which in turn means we have a resilient and sustainable business for our farmers, suppliers and customers.


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