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A line of brightly dressed Nigerian ladies transplanting rice in a paddy field

25th Anniversary Initiatives

In November 2015 we celebrated Olam’s 25th year and looked back on our achievements during that relatively short period of time. We also took the opportunity to look to the future. We marked the occasion by launching 4 key initiatives to enable us to continue growing responsibly and to help address some of the global challenges facing the next generation, such as: food security; water security; impact of climate change; energy security; sustainable growth; inclusive growth; and good governance, particularly in the emerging markets.

The Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security

In September 2014 we launched the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security in partnership with international scientific organisation, ‘Agropolis Fondation’.

The US$50,000 prize recognised an outstanding scientific innovation for its potential impact on the availability, affordability, accessibility or adequacy of food, as well as support research to further its development.

In March 2015, the inaugural Olam International Prize for Innovation in Food Security was awarded to Professor Norman Uphoff and the SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice) for their work on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) at the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture in Montpellier, France.

The game-changing SRI production method has proven to be a sustainable, cost-effective means of increasing rice yields for smallholder farmers in more than 55 rice producing countries. SRI uses 80-90% fewer rice seeds, up to 50% less water and in many instances no fertiliser.  Remarkably, yields are boosted by 20-50% (and sometimes 100-200%), and farmers’ costs reduced by 10-20%. Cornell University’s work in promoting and researching SRI has benefited the food security and livelihoods of over 1 billion people, the majority in emerging markets. Read more about the Olam Prize of Innovation in Food Security here.

The Olam Scholarship Programme

This programme is aimed at fostering leadership and governance in Sub Saharan Africa, by supporting aspiring and capable postgraduate students to pursue higher education in an esteemed international institution. Through the scholarships and Olam mentoring, we hope to play our part in creating a generation of change catalysts who will contribute towards economic transformation, provide good governance, and act as change agents in their community.

The programme will award up to ten scholarships each year to postgraduate students wishing to complete further study in development economics, business management, and public policy and administration, and who are passionate about working in emerging markets. Read more about the Olam Scholarship Prize here.

The Olam Foundation

The Olam Foundation provides a vehicle for Olam to support developmental issues outside the day-to-day commercial framework of our business. With an initial corpus of US$3 million, we will target applications for projects in select developmental sectors in the targeted countries. We also intend to make annual additional contributions to the corpus to scale the scope of the Foundation’s activities.

In addition, this year Olam has gifted S$1 million to the recently launched Singaporean NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies and a further US$250,000 to help fight the Ebola epidemic through Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), as well as the Red Cross and Caritas via the World Cocoa Foundation. At the 25th anniversary gala dinner, 4 Singaporean charities: SINDA; CDAC; Yayasan MENDAKI; and Community Chest received a donation of S$100,000 each.

Building Sustainable Futures Forum

The Building Sustainable Futures Forum, convened by Olam, will be a platform where the rising resource constraints threatening continued global development can be debated, contested, challenged and solved in a holistic way.

The Forum will bring together leaders from different industries across the private sector, NGOs, Governments and academics to focus on key macro issues, including food security, water security, energy security, climate change, sustainable growth and inclusive growth.

We aim for this forum to act as a catalyst to achieve our ultimate aim of breaking down silos and finding sustainable solutions to these interlinked yet complex and intractable issues. Through starting the debate, we hope to develop a practical, action-oriented approach, with inter-disciplinary collaboration and a focus on private sector-led programmes, to find long-term solutions to these major developmental challenges. This initiative will be consistent with our core purpose of Growing Responsibly.