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Language and trust

While each country has its own national language, there are usually many dialects. So, in Côte d’Ivoire the national language is French, yet it is estimated that there are 78 dialects.

Our teams must therefore recruit and train field officers from the local areas. By the end of 2015 we had 1,110 dedicated OLC staff across Africa, Asia, Turkey and South America, many living all year round in the smallholder communities (an increase of 7% on 2014). In this way we build strong relationships as the farmers see we don’t just appear at harvest time to buy their crops, but we are there for the long haul.

Cotton, Oangolo, Cote D'Ivoire

Cotton farmer, Oangolo, Cote d’Ivoire


One of the biggest cultural challenges is how to reach women farmers. The UN World Food Programme estimates that if women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of people who are hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.

In 2015, we managed to increase by 6% the number of women farmers trained under the OLC to reach 67,708.

Explaining issues to farmers such as why children shouldn’t undertake particular tasks on the farm can also be challenging. It might have been the custom for several generations and the parents see it as passing on learnings to their children who will inherit the farm, especially if there is no school in the area. This is why we complement farmer training on labour practices with investment in education.

In 2015 we constructed 5 primary schools and 2 school libraries, improved infrastructure and equipment at over 60 primary and secondary schools through computers, teaching materials, solar lighting and classroom and teacher housing renovation. Read more on how we tackle child labour in the Labour section.

Next section: Lack of education and healthcare