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Olam Livelihood Charter

Since we started sourcing cashew from Nigeria in 1989, Olam recognised that by supporting smallholders to improve their yields and quality, we would also benefit, as we could provide customers with consistent volumes of sustainable products. We call this unlocking mutual value.

In 2010, we formalised our approach with the launch of the Olam Livelihood Charter (OLC) but it didn’t happen overnight. It took 3 years of development and engagement with communities, our farm extension staff, customers, NGOs and other experts.

We found that achieving mutually beneficial impacts in the long-term depended not just on supporting smallholders with agri-training and quality seeds or seedlings, but on helping them to overcome wider economic, environmental and social challenges. Without finance, there’s no farm investment. Without healthcare, farmers cannot fulfil their potential. Without environmental know-how, their landscape degrades. Read more about the 8 mandatory OLC Principles below.

The OLC is not a certification standard. Not all customers want to go down this route for their brand. But they do want reassurance that their product is sustainable and traceable, and that it is helping communities to thrive. By ensuring our OLC initiatives fulfil all 8 Principles, we can meet this requirement. And for those customers who do want certification, we work closely with our certifying partners – in 2015 almost 25% of our OLC tonnage was certified.

OLC – Charter Principles

Only by fulfilling the requirements of all 8 Principles can a sustainability programme achieve OLC status.

1. Finance 
We offer farmer groups finance for crop production, purchasing and asset investments.

2. Improved Yield 
We invest in training and support farmers with the supply of inputs such as fertiliser, seeds or seedlings.

3. Labour Practices 
We train farmers on health and safety, gender inclusion, the elimination of child labour and farming as a business.

4. Market Access 
We offer farmers a fair and competitive price. By remaining on the ground throughout the entire crop season, farmers come to see us as a reliable buyer.

5. Quality 
We encourage farmers to produce good quality crops by enhancing value to farmers and our customers through paying premiums.

6. Traceability 
We ensure products can be tracked to source and certified where required.

7. Social Investment 
We support rural health, education and infrastructure to strengthen the potential of farming communities.

8. Environmental Impact 
We are reducing our overall environmental footprint by training farmers on Climate-Smart Agricultural practices to increase productivity, improve soil, water and forest management.