Every crop we grow or source comes from a landscape where it is nourished by the nutrients in the soil, may depend on insects for pollination and relies on adequate water and sunlight. As a global agri-business with major plantations, farms and concessions, we are therefore conscious of our role as stewards of the earth’s eco-systems.
Operating sustainably also means that we use no more productive land than is absolutely necessary, and ensure that sufficient good quality land is available for livelihoods of others. A particular challenge is that we estimate that currently about 80% of the land producing crops for our supply chains is not under our direct influence i.e. we are procuring the crops from third parties on their land holdings. As major buyers we appreciate that we therefore have to try to extend our Growing Responsibly ethos as far we can.
Launch in March 2018 and with time-bound commitments, Olam’s Living Landscape Policy applies to all Olam’s agricultural commodity businesses, including upstream production and third-party sourcing. It encapsulates our vision to deliver a triple positive impact in the places where we source and grow our products, working across our businesses and with our partners to create and sustain Living Landscapes, where prosperous farmers, thriving rural communities, and healthy ecosystems coexist. Olam already has in place a suite of sustainability policies and codes which now sit under the Living Landscapes Policy – all have been developed in line with internationals standards such as FSC, IFC and RSPO. The Olam Supplier Code is particularly important for reducing eco-system risks in our third party supply chains.
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In Olam’s supply chains, our main biodiversity risks embrace the tiny and the large: pollinators, especially bees, and the large iconic mammals of the Congo basin – apes and elephants.
Given our tropical wood concessions in the Republic of Congo, and palm and rubber plantations in the Republic of Gabon, we are extremely mindful that we work alongside the habitats of an incredibly diverse and rich wildlife. For example, in supporting Gabon’s national land use policy and recognising the sensitive equatorial flora and fauna of the region, we have worked at taking the lead in developing the RSPO New Planting Procedures in Gabon. We have set aside 72,000 ha for biodiversity and High Conservation Value (HCV) protection in Palm and we have similarly set aside 25,000 ha of HCV forests and other land areas in Rubber.
The identification and setting aside of HCV areas is undertaken with the help of recognised certification experts. Almost all of this HCV area is logged forest with a mix of secondary and old-growth species. These forests are relatively biodiverse, represent the best natural areas within our concession and provide connectivity to the adjacent landscape. They are home to the wild species found in Gabon, elephant, chimpanzee, gorilla and forest buffalo, as well as a host of lesser known protected, rare or endemic species.
We have therefore conducted extensive biodiversity surveys during our Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) and supplementary surveys to guide land use plans, zoning and management.
Read more about how we manage eco-systems in
As an agricultural company, we have a first-hand understanding of the vital role bees and other insects play in our food system and in our own global supply chains. There has been increasing publicity recently on the declining populations of bees around the world and the effect this will have: a third of the food we eat depends on pollinating insects, and in 2005 it was estimated that the “total economic value of pollination worldwide amounted to €153 billion, which represented 9.5% of the value of the world agricultural production used for human food”.
We therefore balance the risk of combatting pests and disease with careful use of pesticides. We have made a commitment to limit our use of WHO Class IA and IB chemicals to exceptional circumstances where no alternatives are available, and have implemented a control plan for rarely used Class II chemicals (including neonicotinoids) in our own upstream operations through our Plantations, Concessions and Farms Code, and among our farmer suppliers through our Supplier Code. In many of our smallholder training programmes we are teaching Integrated Pest Management techniques, where the growing of certain types of plants attract or deter insects and pests.