Head of Business at Olam Ghana Limited, Eric Botwe said the company has given over 1,000 cocoa farmer $1million interest-free loans in addition to the GHC4million premium it paid them for the 2015/2016 cocoa season.
He was speaking at the Olam Cocoa Managers conference in Accra, which was to sensitize the about 400 Olam Cocoa Managers about the vision of the company and to chart a course going forward.
Botwe noted that currently Ghana is producing about 850,000 tons I’d cocoa every year, out or which alone Olam purchases over 90,000 tons, representing almost 13 per cent market share.
“As a company we believe in growing responsibly by reinvesting in the people and communities in which we operate and that was what informed the increase in premiums by 15 per ton and the advance of a US$1m interest-free loans to empower the farmers,” he said.
Eric Botwe expressed gratitude to COCOBOD for ensuring that in the last three to five years, the problem of lack of jute sacks and that of laborers holding the industry to ransom is over.
He also observed that this year the Ghana cocoa bean has grown by eight per cent, but expressed worry about the constant decline in the production of cocoa in the Brong Ahafo region, calling for special intervention to reverse the trend.
CEO of Olam Ghana, Amit Agrawal said globally, the company was adjudged the 23rd Best Company by Fortune Magazine for its responsible business in investing in people and the communities where its operates in Africa and Asia.
He said in Ghana, Olam paid over GHC200million in total taxes to government, aside other social investments it made in people and communities.
“Apart from our cocoa processing factory in Ghana, we are also the biggest biscuit producer in Ghana and largest tomato paste manufacturer in West Africa – this year also we are expanding our flour mill to produce 1,000 tons of flour per day in Ghana,” he said.
He assured stakeholders that it will continue to make significant investments in the various farming communities and in people in Ghana as part of its core business.
Deputy Minister Water Resource, Works and Housing Sampson Ahi lauded the company for its investments in and support for cocoa farmers, but also called on them to establish an insurance scheme for cocoa farmers against bush fires.
He said “Farmer Based Insurance Scheme should be considered for implementation by Olam’s management for cocoa farmers.”
The Deputy Minister said such a scheme would give hope to cocoa farmer who suffer loss to bush fires, and stop such farmers from committing suicide.
Sampson Ahi, who is also the MP for Bodi, also urged Olam to establish special scholarship schemes specifically for the children of cocoa farmers.
He noted that between the light crop and main cocoa seasons, farmers face challenges with paying the school fees of their children and so a scholarship scheme by Olam will be of great help to the farmers.
The Deputy Minister noted that currently cocoa generates some GHC2billion in revenue every year and employs over 1.5 million people directly and industry.
He therefore assured players in the industry of continuous government support to ensure it is profitable for stakeholders like Olam and others.