Olam Cocoa supports key African cocoa producers with medical supplies amid pandemic

The international Olam Cocoa group has delivered a support package providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and key medical supplies to cocoa farming communities tackling coronavirus across Central and West Africa.

As the business revealed, farming cooperatives, hospitals and health centres will receive much-needed equipment including face masks, surgical gloves, hand sanitiser, thermometers and hands-free washing stations.

In a company address on the issue, CEO Sunny Verghese described the pandemic and its subsequent major economic impact ‘as the most significant crisis that I have lived through in my life’ but stressed that the company was doing all it could do to support the industry, those working throughout the supply chain and its own staff.

Vulnerable communities will also receive food parcels to help cocoa farming families who are struggling with the rising price of basic food staples as a result of the pandemic. In Nigeria, where the cost of some staples has almost doubled during the crisis, Olam Cocoa has already distributed 9,600 boxes of food, each box providing enough meals to feed a family of four for three days.

Andrew Brooks, Global Head of Sustainability, Olam Cocoa, said: “In these extraordinary times, we must look after one another. Our priority is to support the people working across the global supply chain and especially cocoa farmers who may be struggling with rising food prices and limited access to healthcare and infrastructure. We will continue to collaborate with local governments, health authorities and communities to provide equipment and support where it is needed across our cocoa origins.”

Within the company’s package of support are  99,500 masks for health workers and farmers in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, 30,900 bottles of hand sanitiser for health workers and farmers across the four countries and over 1,200 hands-free washing stations in farming communities across the four countries. In addition, the business has also arranged radio broadcasts on more than 30 local stations in Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon providing important public health information and advice to one million cocoa farmers in rural villages.

It has also produced 1,970 posters and push notifications on WHO guidance around hygiene, social distancing and child labour prevention to increase awareness in cocoa communities in Ivory Coast. There has also been a  continued commitment to delivering Good Agricultural Practice training to help cocoa farmers improve yields and incomes. That includes developing new training videos in Nigeria delivered via LED screens on mobile vans where it is not possible to safely visit farmers in person

Furthermore, Olam Cocoa is also providing similar support around the world. Together with Australian-backed Market Development Facility, it is launching a Covid-19 awareness campaign in Papua New Guinea which aims to share public health information and PPE with 82,000 farming households. While in Brazil and Indonesia, it is using its digital apps to deliver public health information to farmers.

This builds on the efforts of parent company Olam International which has committed over $3.5m of in-kind and financial support to the global fight against coronavirus. This ranges from sensitising farmers in Indonesia, to providing medical equipment and essential food supplies across Asia, Africa and south America, to producing 3D printed masks for police and social workers in Europe.

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