Andrew Brooks, Head of Sustainability at Olam Foods International (OFI) writes the forward to OFI’s Annual Progress Report that they are “Seeing positive results”. His introduction is a safely worded summary that reinforces the companies commitment to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative. Notably, he reports that deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana has halved between 2018 and 2019.
I like OFI’s report structure. It is approachable to the non-technical reader and is divided into clear sections, each interspersed with an individual story, which is a nice touch. The addition of the tables at the end showing actions, goals, measurement indicators and investment is mostly clear and a useful quick reference. My only suggestion would be to have footnotes to explain some of the anomalies. For example commitment 3 in the table is noted, but has not targets and no investment allocated, so an explanation would be welcome.
There are several infographics, some of which I’ve copied below, and they are useful in communicating key points although I would like to see the numbers contrasted with previous years to establish a pattern of progress, rather than only seeing the cumulative number.
Some Key Numbers
We know that Olam captures quite a lot of data and is proficient and structuring this data so goals can be usefully aligned. With so much data to choose from, I found it interesting to see what they wanted to highlight.
Below, are the infographics for Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and as it’s nice to see they compare like for like data between the countries where possible. I’d guess the differences between the numbers provided for Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire reflect a different approach or a different objective that is required for each country.
For example, in Ghana, they are counting the number of farmers who are offered a financial product, while in Côte d’Ivoire, that data is not available.
I noticed also that the number of farmers in Ghana how have diversified their incomes was a healthy 32,465. In Côte d’Ivoire, which has a larger production, I’d expect the number to be higher, but it’s only 1,478! I’d really like to understand why that is!
Once again, OFI is working quite closely with a number of partners, including the Rainforest Alliance. We previously talked on a call with sustainability and project leads from OFI and the Rainforest Alliance respectively, about their work in the coffee sector and the role of the Landscale Initiative.
In that interview, Jeremy Dufour explained how important collaboration was to make any impact at scale. Organisations, governments and local officials must work together to produce a successful outcome, and the same is restated in this report.
Last year we trained 66,051 farmers in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) across Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana so they can improve productivity on their farms
The reports covers the following areas:
- 2020 Progress Summary
- Forest Protection and Restoration
- Sustainable Production and Farmer Livelihoods
- Social Inclusion and Community Engagement
- Looking to the Future
- Tables of goals and commitments
In 2020, we achieved our goal by putting in place 100% deforestation monitoring across our global, direct supply chain, including
Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Via our Forest Loss Risk Index (FLRI) – Olam CFI 2020 Progress Report
Although we were critical of the recent Mondelēz International ‘Snacking Made Right’ report, one of their referenced papers was very insightful, arguing the case that because most cocoa farmers own such small plots, that it will be impossible for them to become profitable.
Interestingly, OFI also highlights the issue of small plots but is focused on a different problem. The Mondelēz white paper states that small plots cannot be profitable for the farmer whereas this report looks at a plot enlargement, not as a cure for poverty, but as a cause of deforestation. The organisations are therefore trying to help farmers to achieve higher yields without enlargement.
The report is a digestable size at only 22 pages, yet it gives what is needed in a structured easy to read format. As someone who has to read them, I really appreciate that. With a few minor tweaks, it could be made even better, but you can’t really take anything away from Olam for communicating dry numbers in an engaging and meaningful way.