Yussif Amankwa, Branch Manager for our cashew operations in Ghana, presents Olam and Mitsubishi Corporation’s donation of hygiene kits to Opoku Donyina, Director of Education for Nkoranza North District, at Donkro Nkwanta D/A Junior High School.

Students at the Donkro Nkwanta D/A Junior High School in Nkoranza South District receiving the donated supplies.

Mr. Makoto Saito, Managing Director of Mitsubishi Corporation (Nigeria) Limited, said of the partnership with Olam, “Corporate Responsibility to society is one of the three corporate principles of Mitsubishi Corporation. In partnering with Olam Ghana, we believe we can reach and contribute to communities and people who are in serious need in face of the potential risk from of COVID-19”.  

An urgent need to act amid COVID-19

Our cashew team, part of Olam Food Ingredients, has been working with cashew farmers in the fertile vegetative belt spanning the Bono East and Bono regions of Ghana for many years. When COVID-19 hit we knew immediately that one of our priorities had to be raising awareness on symptoms and preventive measures to help curb the spread of the virus. Not only was COVID-19 an unknown concept to much of the population at this point, but implementing preventive measures was not straightforward, with practices such as “social distancing” being unfamiliar to these communities. 

We saw the children of farmers whom we work with posing a particular risk. Having been away from school for three months during lockdown, they would naturally want to catch up with friends as schools re-opened. If precautions are not taken, these children may contribute to further transmission of COVID-19 within their communities. 

Finally, because these farming communities are often in rural and remote locations, we also have to grapple with a general lack of healthcare and telecommunications in their surroundings.

Collaborating to drive change at scale

It made sense to us that the fastest way to provide support was to partner with others. Having been present in Ghana for 26 years, we have forged strong ties with farmers and local communities, as well as other stakeholders who have put down roots in the country.

One of our partners is Mitsubishi Corporation, with whom we have a joint venture in Japan and who is a major buyer of our sesame in Nigeria.

Our partnership with Mitsubishi extends beyond Ghana. We also recently worked with them in Senegal to donate hygiene supplies and equipment to four health districts in Dakar and Thies to curb the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • 8 solar-powered hand washing stations
  • 10,000 facemasks
  • 500 bottles of hand sanitiser
  • 4 infrared thermometers
  • 40 bars of soap

Helping schools re-open safely and keeping communities protected

Working closely together, Mitsubishi and our team have sourced and donated hygiene kits to more than 1,500 students across three districts in Bono and Bono East, namely the Nkoranza South District, Nkoranza North District and Wenchi District. We especially focused this outreach to students, many of whom are children of the cashew farmers we work with. In total, we provided:

  • 1,500 face masks
  • 100 veronica buckets
  • 1,000 hand sanitisers
  • 1,000 bars of soap
  • 100 boxes of tissue paper

The beneficiaries were students of Donkro Nkwanta Presby Junior High School, Donkro Nkwanta D/A Junior High School, Abuontam D/A Junior High School, Yefri D/A Junior High School, Odumasi D/A Junior High School, Awisa Junior High School and Salvation Army Junior High School.

In collaboration with the district education office, we also ran radio campaigns on COVID-19 sensitisation such as proper hand washing techniques, in the form of catchy jingles, to reach even the most remote communities.

We are grateful to the Ghanaian government and Mitsubishi’s support in this crucial intervention and look forward to more collaborations to re-imagine what we can do for Ghana’s communities during these unpreceded times.  

About the Author: Yussif Amankwa is the Branch Manager for Olam’s cashew operations in Ghana and oversees Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability efforts on the ground.

Read more about how Olam has been supporting farmers and rural communities through COVID-19 here.