We also need to understand the true sustainability impact of agricultural products. This is increasingly critical both for Olam and its customers. The earth’s capacity to continue to provide water, nutrients and a stable climate is at a tipping point. Millions of farmers are also in need of a future that is economically and socially sustainable, one in which future generations will invest and grow.
However, reliable and consistent data and insights are difficult to obtain due to the high level of fragmentation in global agricultural supply chains, particularly in emerging markets. This is because crops often make their way from farmers in rural villages, change hands through many intermediaries, and are combined with other volumes before reaching a manufacturer such as a food company. This makes traceability difficult. Olam and its customers need a new set of tools to inform and plan social and environmental initiatives at the scale and urgency required to benefit farmers, rural communities and planet.
In 2014 we launched the Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS) – using GPS and detailed surveys, OFIS provides smallholder farmers with far greater data and information on their farms than ever before to help increase yields and quality.
In 2018 we launched AtSource – one of the most comprehensive sustainability packages in the marketplace for B2B customers which guarantees traceability and offers 3 tiers to meet increasing sustainability requirements.
In 2018 we kicked off a huge internal programme to brainstorm how we can achieve our Purpose. Over 300 millennials in Olam have been extensively trained by Olam with our partner Forum for the Future to lead workshops that involve everyone in Olam. From our cashew processing employees in Côte d’Ivoire to our cotton procurement team in the USA we want to hear everyone’s ideas. In 2019 these will then be curated into Olam’s Re-imagine Action Plan – watch this space.
For many years Olam has been collaborating and investing in multiple partnerships and industry platforms to share learnings and achieve the wider impact the sector so greatly needs. These include over 40 customer and NGO partnerships for the Olam Livelihood Charter; research partnerships; and industry initiatives such as CocoaAction and Cocoa & Forests for which we were founding signatories. In 2016, we instigated the launch of the Global Agri-business Alliance (GAA) – the first global alliance of its kind with private sector companies across the entire value chain of food and non-food crops focused on sustainability and development challenges in our sector. We are also particularly active with initiatives led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Business – our CEO Sunny Verghese is Chair.
Investing in agricultural research to identify more resilient crop strains or find new methods to reduce resource inputs is a priority across the sector. In addition to focusing on our own operations, we are also stimulating action through the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security – a US$50,000 fund to scale up proven research that carries a significant potential impact on the four As of food security: availability (is there enough), accessibility (in the right place), affordability (for the whole population) and adequacy (for a nutritious, balanced diet).