Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Olam has stepped up to provide important support to our employees and their communities, as well as to the farmers in our supply chains.

In cashew growing countries like Côte d’Ivoire, which have limited healthcare and telecoms infrastructure in rural areas, it has been critical to raise awareness of how to prevent transmission, as well as provide hygiene kits. Fortunately, Olam Cashew has, for many years, been providing sustainability support to over 26,000 farmers, such as training in Good Agricultural Practices. We have therefore been able to activate those networks with COVID prevention programmes.

In our processing facility in the town of Bouaké, where we employ over 1,000 people we immediately put in place the recommended hygiene equipment, including individual reusable masks and hydro-alcoholic gel for all workers, and hand washing stations at sites entrances. Teams were divided into 2 shifts with a rotation time of 2 weeks, with employees alternating between working from home and working on site. This reduced risks and allowed physical distancing between people at the workplace.

Because we are a food processing facility we had stores of Personal Protective Equipment as part of our standard food and employee safety protocols. This meant that we could support the local authorities to provide 1,750 reusable masks, 2,075 containers of liquid soap and hydro-alcoholic gel, 196 hand washing stations, 7 infrared thermometers, and 50 sets of gloves. By equipping city entry and exit corridors with the required health materials, our objective is to stop the spread of the virus from reaching these upcountry areas and ensure that our workers, farmers, and host communities are protected.

In the Bondoukou region, health kits were received by the Defence and Security Forces who are on the front line as they screen people travelling for work, etc.

In the Séguéla region, supplies were presented to community leaders.  Neeraj Tiwari, a manager with Olam Ivoire, said, "We did not want to stay on the sidelines of the momentum of solidarity that emerges in this period of health crisis."

In the Bouaké region, the Secretary General of the prefecture of Bouaké, Katou Bony, expressed his thanks: “It is with satisfaction and thanks that we receive this donation which will allow us to meet the requests for help that people keep sending us.".

About the Author: Diomande Daouda is the head of Sustainable Procurement and the Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Coordinator for our Olam Ivoire operations.