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Why food and nutrition security is material to our business

Some people may wonder how a company selling cocoa, coffee, cashew and cotton can contribute to global food security. Others, who know that Olam is the world’s second largest rice supplier, and an importer of wheat into Africa, may see our contribution as helping to direct the flow of these key crops.

But once people understand that we source from 4 million smallholders in highly rural areas in emerging markets, our role quickly becomes apparent within the context of these statistics:

  • Almost 80 percent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas where most are dependent on agriculture (FAO)
  • 500 million small farms worldwide, most still rainfed, provide up to 80 per cent of food consumed in a large part of the developing world. (International Fund for Agricultural Development 2013)
  • Agricultural growth in low-income and agrarian economies is at least twice as effective as growth in other sectors in reducing hunger and poverty (FAO)

If we do not support these farmers and their countries in tackling the causes of rural poverty, hunger and malnutrition, then as a business we run the risk of seeing volumes reducing in the future as yields cannot meet the continuing increase in world population and natural resources are depleted. Farmers may also give up farming to find better sources of income and food in the cities. Olam, in many of our origins, contributes to the respective national food security policy by helping to make available affordable food to local populations. It is also, of course, the right thing to do as a global food company.

All of our material areas – but most notably Climate Change, Livelihoods, Land and Water – are therefore critical in the delivery of this SDG – and you can read more in the relevant sections of this report. In this dedicated Food Security section, we look at some key areas using the targets of SDG 2 as our framework.


Image: Olam rice farm, Nigeria.