From sourcing cocoa beans at the farm gate in 1999, Olam Cocoa has evolved into a fully integrated business, with traceability and sustainability at the core of its business and as it marks two decades of operation in the Ghana cocoa sector, the company reflects on its performance to date.
At a ceremony held in Accra to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the company’s successful business in Ghana, Mr. Eric Asare Botwe, Business Head of Olam Cocoa said Olam has successfully built a cocoa portfolio which accounts for 25 percent of the cocoa bean trade in the country and contributed significantly to Ghana’s position as a world leader in cocoa production.
“Twenty years down the line, Olam Cocoa is the one of the biggest private Licenced Buying Company (LBC) in the country, currently sourcing 140,000 metric tonnes of beans as against its humble beginning of 38,000 tonnes in 1999. Our journey has indeed been an innovative one and encompassed nearly every part of the cocoa supply chain, contributing significantly to Ghana’s position as a world leader in cocoa production,” Mr. Botwe said.
He expressed pride in the high level of local content in the operations of Olam Cocoa disclosing that the company employs 650 direct staff and engages some 6,000 commission agents, all of whom are Ghanaians, operating in all the COCOBOD regions within about 13,000 communities across the country.
Mr. Botwe said the company has been working closely with Ghana COCOBOD to ensure that the cocoa industry in Ghana continues to thrive and deliver positive results for all stakeholders – from farmers and the government to the end-users of cocoa products.
Olam Cocoa sources cocoa beans from hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers across Ghana and provides long-term, year-round support to help them professionalise their operations and get the best price for their crop through its flagship sustainability initiative, the Olam Livelihood Charter (OLC). The OLC provides support ranging from micro-financing, coaching on Good Agricultural Practices and climate-smart agriculture to supplying inputs such as fertilizers and seedlings. The company also has an impact on the wider cocoa growing community by running training on health and safety, gender inclusion and child labour awareness.
The company has specifically partnered with COCOBOD to source 30,000 tonnes of fertiliser to improve average cocoa yields from 450 to 900 kilos per hectare in order to support increased incomes for farmers.
Aside from its sustainability programmes in Ghana, Olam Cocoa is also a recognisable leader in cocoa ingredient processing. Established in 2009 and located in the Kaase Industrial Area, Kumasi, it is a state-of-the-art factory with the latest technology in cocoa bean processing and is credited by the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority with one of the highest quality standards in the industry. Under Olam Cocoa’s Unicao brand, the factory processes Ghana cocoa beans into a variety of cocoa masses ranging from mild roast to full-bodied roasted nibs.
Mr. Botwe was full of praise for Cocoa farmers as he pledged Olam Cocoa’s determination to scale up its commitment to improving the livelihood of farming communities by announcing a series of projects, ranging from the provision of mechanised water boreholes to the refurbishment of school classrooms for cocoa-growing communities in Ashanti, Eastern, Central, Western, Ahafo and Wester North regions.
Mr. Gerard Manley, the Global Head of Olam Cocoa said, at the core of Olam’s cocoa business is the company’s high commitment to sustainability and traceability, having taken a leading role since 2004 in helping to build a global cocoa sector which provides long-term positive support for cocoa farmers, their communities and the environment in which they operate.
“A holistic approach to sustainability has always been at the heart of our operations in Ghana and we are harnessing the power of digital tools such as the Olam Farmers Information Systems to protect forests, enhance cocoa quality and improve the livelihood of cocoa growing communities,” said Mr. Manley.
Recounting the footprints of Olam in Ghana over the past 25 years, Mr. Amit Agrawal, Country Head of Olam Ghana disclosed that the company has contributed immensely to the country by way of investment, taxes, employment and sustainability. Olam Ghana has set up new businesses in the supply chain as well as manufactures and markets its branded food products. Olam products like Tasty Tom Tomato Mix, Perk, King Cracker & Nutrisnax, Royal Feast & Royal Aroma Rice and Royal Gold Wheat Flour have become household brands for Ghanaian consumers.
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who was a special guest at the ceremony, said the creation of a conducive environment to support the private sector is high on the government’s agenda.
“We would like to celebrate many more of such success stories in the private sector,” Dr. Bawumia said, describing Olam’s achievements in the course of two decades as remarkable and deserving emulation by others.
Commending Olam Cocoa’s successes in cashless transactions and the progress made in the digitization of its business, the Vice President said, “What we see in Olam today, is a microcosm of what we want to see in the whole of Ghana”.
He named the instability and volatility of cocoa prices, the unattractiveness of farming to the younger generation and bad road networks as some of the most troubling challenges confronting the cocoa sector and said the government is working relentlessly to resolve these problems.