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How Olam contributes to food security – SDG2 Target 2.5

SDG2 Target 2.5

“By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed.”

Through the Olam Livelihood Charter we ensure that farmers have access to the best varieties of seeds and seedlings. In 2015 this included distributing:

  • 1.793,880 cocoa seedlings
  • 972,357 coffee seedlings
  • 50,000 cashew seedlings
  • 5,766 tonnes of cotton planting seeds

As stated by FAO, however “since the 1900s, some 75 per cent of crop diversity has been lost from farmers’ fields. Better use of agricultural biodiversity can contribute to more nutritious diets, enhanced livelihoods for farming communities and more resilient and sustainable farming systems”. We therefore promote diversification of crops among smallholders.

On an ongoing basis we work with scientific organisations to produce better genetic varieties (non-GMO) including CIRAD, CSIRO, IRRI, IITA, Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory and AGRA.

A specific example of in-house research and development that we share with farmers is run by the Agri-Operations team of our Spices and Vegetable Ingredients (SVI) Business Unit. They are working in multiple ways to improve the performance and productivity of their crops (onions, garlic, tomatoes, chilli peppers, parsley).

The Variety Improvement team has active conventional breeding programmes to develop new varieties of onions and chilli peppers specifically for SVI’s dehydration operations. These proprietary varieties bring improvements in attributes such as yield, efficiency, disease resistance and quality to benefit both Olam’s farmers as well as their own processing operations.

For garlic, Olam SVI operates a plant tissue culture lab to annually produce new nematode and virus-free foundation material to feed their seed garlic programme. This foundation material is grown and increased under close supervision in Certified Seed Garlic areas to maintain its disease-free status. After 5 plus years of increase this clean seed is sufficient for production planting bringing significant improvements in yield and dry matter content to Olam SVI’s garlic operations.

In addition to these crop improvement programmes, Olam SVI employs a large team of Crop Managers. These agricultural experts work very closely with Olam SVI’s farmer suppliers, providing planting, harvesting, agronomic advice and other assistance in almost every aspect of our crops’ growth and development.