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How Olam contributes to food security – SDG2 Target 2.4

SDG2 Target 2.4

“By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.”

Our sections on Climate Change, Livelihoods, Water and Land will also address many of the issues in this target but we cover here additional activities undertaken in 2015:

The Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security

Launched in partnership with leading scientific organisation Agropolis Fondation to celebrate Olam’s 25th anniversary year, the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security recognises an outstanding innovation for its impact on the availability, affordability, accessibility or adequacy of food.

In March 2015 it was awarded to SRI-Rice, which is housed at Cornell University (New York), and has been promoting research and facilitating knowledge-sharing on the System of Rice Intensification, a climate-smart methodology with outstanding results for rice production that is surprisingly counter-intuitive. Capitalising on biological processes, on the genetic potential of the crop, and on plant-soilmicrobial interactions, the system requires 80-90% fewer rice seeds, up to 50% less water and, in many instances, no fertiliser.

Professor Norman Uphoff received the US$50,000 prize to further the research in the SRI practices which are already increasing the yields of over 10 million smallholder farmers by an average of 1.67 tonnes per hectare, while simultaneously reducing their costs and lowering water requirements.

To read more about the SRI system and to hear farmers talking about their success go to: Farming First: the story behind SRI. Call for entries for the 2016/17 Prize will be announced with Agropolis in September 2016.

Launch of an industry landscape analysis with WBCSD

Open the Sustainability Report of many major agri-businesses or food and beverage manufacturers and you will see examples of sustainability initiatives for smallholders and rural communities. Equally, many NGOs, aid agencies and charities are also carrying out programmes on the ground. However, for competitive reasons, many of these initiatives tend to happen in silos. If we are to achieve SDG2 it became apparent to Olam that we needed to at least know exactly what the current global situation really looks like, especially if we are to derive maximum impact from our investments.

In 2015 we launched the idea to our peers, customers and other manufacturers, of conducting an industry landscape analysis to get a better picture of the strengths and gaps in the global food security matrix. Conducted by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) as the chosen (neutral) knowledge partner, the research reviews participating food companies’ corporate commitments and sustainability programmes, as well as the partnerships and funding mechanisms cutting across the main commodities. In addition to the research, WBCSD has been conducting interviews with individual companies (over 20 by the end of January 2016).

The findings will be aggregated and presented for discussion at our Building Sustainable Futures Forum in September 2016 which aims to bring together agri business leaders as well as stakeholder representatives from NGOs, governments, international organisations, and research institutes. Together we will explore and engage on issues inherently connected to agricultural supply chains. It is our ambition that the gap analysis research outcomes will inspire participants to identify and collaborate on programmes in regions lacking any other form of support. We also hope to launch a Global Agri-business Alliance to work together on common ‘real world’ solutions.

Image: Professor Norman Uphoff from SRI Rice with a rice farmer.

Next section: How Olam contributes to Food Security – SDG2 Target 2.5