Olam Ghana, a leading supply chain manager of agri-products and one of Ghana’s biggest cocoa buying agencies, has announced the payment of GH₡ 4 million in premiums to cocoa farmers for the 2015/2016 season.
The amount represents a 100 per cent increase over the total premium of GH₡ 1.9 million paid to farmers last year.
The announcement was made at a cocoa farmers’ durbar at Mumuni, near Samreboi in the Amenfi West District of the Western Region, which attracted more than 1,000 cocoa farmers from all the cocoa growing regions in the country.
This season’s premiums are distributed to some 12,000 farmers across the country, each of whom would receive Gh₡15 as bonus on each bag of cocoa sold to the company.
The premiums, popularly known as bonuses, are paid to deserving farmers for selling certified cocoa beans to the company, based on premium grading by cocoa buyers on the international market.
General Manager of Olam’s Cocoa Licensed Buying Company (LBC) business, Mr Eric Asare Botwe who announced the season’s premium payment, commended the farmers for their hard work during the season and urged them to continue to focus on improving not just the quantity but also the quality of the cocoa they produce.
Mr Botwe said Olam is committed to put in place the right measures to ensure an increase in production of premium cocoa, whilst it works to improve the quality of life of all farmers within Olam’s operational areas.
He disclosed that this year, Olam has voted one million dollars (four million Cedis) as interest-free loans to cocoa farmers to enable them to procure farm inputs and other needs for their operations.
He described the initiative as constituting an important aspect of Olam’s commitment to helping improve the standard of living of farmers.
The occasion also marked the launch of the Wassa Amenfi Educational Fund, providing GH₵ 40,000 as seed capital to support the development of education in the area.
Under the Fund, Olam Ghana would adopt a school in the Wassa Amenfi area and develop it into a model school to meet the standards of schools in urban areas of the country.
Mr Botwe said a needs assessment team is on the ground conducting feasibility studies for the initiative.
He explained that the goal of the company is to promote the well-being of farmers by working with them to attain improved and sustainable livelihood for themselves, their families and their communities at large, with education as one of the most important components.
Sustainability Manager for Olam Cocoa in Ghana, Mr Kennedy Ntoso, noted that, as a partner in the production of cocoa, Olam would continue to share some of its earnings with farmers within the company’s operational areas.
He urged farmers to continue do business with the company in order to enjoy the rewards and benefits derived from the Olam-farmer partnership.
Mr Ntoso said Olam Cocoa would also be stepping up its farmer training programmes in good farm practices with a view to increase farm yields and improve the overall incomes of farmers.
The Omanhene of Wassa Amenfi, Tetrete Okuamoah Sekyim II, was full of praise for Olam Ghana for the support the company has consistently given to farmers in the area.
The Chief, nonetheless, appealed for more support from Olam “to boost the morale of farmers” in his traditional area to produce more cocoa “for the good of their families, their communities and for the nation”.
Nana Sekyim assured Olam of the traditional authority’s support for its operations and programmes of social interventions aimed at bringing development to the Wassa Amenfi Traditional Area.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board in charge of Quality Control, Mr T K Osei, commended Olam Ghana for the immense role it is playing in the development of the country’s cocoa sector.
He charged the various LBCs to strive to educate farmers to practice sustainable cocoa production in order to improve yield and also receive higher premium for their produce on the international market.
The occasion was used to inaugurate a $ 150,000 warehouse at Mumuni, which offers the community a new production storage capacity of 560 metric tons.
The warehouse is equipped with offices, stores, mechanised water system and a modern place of convenience.
It is expected to ease the burden of farmers who previously have had to travel long distances to reach a cocoa depot.
Last year’s results of the acclaimed Olam Livelihood Charter (OLC) released by the agri-business giant indicate that Olam Ghana made available to Ghanaian farmers a total of $ 22 million in interest-free, short-term funding for farming operations and related activities.
The OLC, a global initiative, which aims at bringing prosperity to farming and rural communities, supports a total of 31,722 Ghanaian farmers in the cocoa and cashew sectors.