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Balancing pesticide use with natural methods of pest control

Olam is committed to ensuring that pesticides are used with correct due diligence for the surrounding biodiversity and landscape, as well as for the health of the consumer.

On our own plantations, and with our large-scale farmers, we develop biodiversity action plans to maintain and monitor the environmental balance between pests and a healthy crop. Products are routinely tested for residues to ensure food safety standards are met.

Through the Olam Livelihood Charter and our Supplier Code, we educate smallholders on the same factors.

We are also strong advocates of maximising the methods supplied by nature to help reduce pesticide use – Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The University of California, Davis, describes IPM as focusing “on long-term prevention of pests or their damage by managing the ecosystem. With IPM, you take actions to keep pests from becoming a problem, such as by growing a healthy crop that can withstand pest attacks, using disease-resistant plants, or caulking cracks to keep insects or rodents from entering a building. Rather than simply eliminating the pests you see right now, using IPM means you’ll look at environmental factors that affect the pest and its ability to thrive. Armed with this information, you can create conditions that are unfavourable for the pest.”

Examples include Olam SVI’s chilli ‘backward integrated programme in India’, where they source from around 1,000 farmers in the Guntur region. In 2015, they sourced 5,500 MT of IPM chilli free of pesticide residues, dramatically reducing Aflatoxin, and meeting all major food safety norms in the EU and USA.

Anchored by 52 Olam employees, the programme offers specialised training for field assistants and farmers. Using IPM it promotes natural methods of pest control, such as planting maize as a border crop, using other crop and pheromone traps, and deploying hygienic drying techniques that minimise contamination of the harvest. As a result of the programme costs, have declined for Indian farmers by 15%, pesticide inputs are down 30% and average crop yields are up by 10%.