Accra, Sept. 18, GNA - Olam Ghana Limited, a leading supply chain manager of agri-products and one of Ghana's top cocoa buying organisations, received a thumps up for its value additions to the cocoa industry in the country.
The Deputy CEO of Ghana COCOBOD, James Kofi Kutsoati, lauded Olam Ghana Limited, for its investment and sustained contribution to the cocoa industry in the country.
Speaking at Olam Ghana's Annual Cocoa Managers' conference in Accra, Mr Kutsoati was full of praises for Olam Ghana Limited for following set standards for practitioners in the industry.
He also commended the company for innovative wealth schemes designed to help farmers earn more for their efforts.
Mr Kotsoati said: 'Olam Ghana Ltd has continually ensured quality through adherence to standards and through its certification programmes with farmers, which now earn about 1,200 farmers' higher premiums.
'Olams' contribution to national development through community involvement and development in areas such as education is innovative and commendable.'
This year's Cocoa Managers Conference held on the theme: 'Innovate & Optimize to Scale New Heights,' was an opportunity for about 400 Managers and Management staff to review the business over the last one year and re-strategise for the future.
The Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Sampson Ahi who was a guest at the event, called on Licensed Buying Companies to consider a special insurance scheme for cocoa farmers across the country.
This, he, said would protect them against losses, especially bush fires.
He urged Olam Ghana Limited to take the lead in the establishment of such a critically important farmer-focused insurance scheme.
He however decried the devastating impact of 'Galamsey' on the cocoa business in the country as the penchant for the illegal extraction of gold has done so much harm to the cocoa industry.
'Large tracts of cocoa farmlands have been sold to these illegal miners for money. As a result, productive farmlands have been degraded, water bodies have been polluted with heavy metals,' Mr Ahi said.
He urged the Cocoa Managers to advise farmers not to sacrifice permanent revenue for the short-term rewards of the illegal miners.
Mr Eric Asare Botwe, Manager of Olam's Cocoa Licensed Buying Company (LBC) business, spoke of the increasing fortunes of cocoa farmers doing business with Olam.
He disclosed that the company is 'paying out GH¢4 million in premiums to cocoa farmers for the 2015/2016 season - an amount, which represents a 100 per cent increase over the total premium of GH¢1.9 million paid to farmers last year'.
"As a company, we believe in growing responsibly by reinvesting in the people (farmers) and communities in which we operate and that was what informed the increase in premiums to GH¢15 per bag and the advance of a $ 1m interest-free loans to empower the farmers," he said at the closing ceremony.
He said Olam currently buys about 13 per cent of Ghana's total produce of 850,000 tons of Cocoa each year, making the company the third largest LBC in the country.
The Country Head and CEO of Olam Ghana, Amit Agrawal, noted that the global business has been witnessing growth on many front as Olam was adjudged the 23rd Best Company by Fortune Magazine for its responsible business in investing in people and the communities where it operates in Africa and Asia.
He said in Ghana, Olam paid more than GH¢200 million in total taxes to the government, aside other social investments it made in people and communities.
"Apart from our cocoa processing factory in Ghana, we are also the biggest biscuit producer in Ghana and largest tomato paste manufacturer in West Africa.
'This year also we are expanding our flour mill to produce 1,000 tons of flour per day in Ghana," Mr Agrawal said.
Olam Ghana, established in 1994, has invested almost GH¢1 billion in the cocoa sector alone, with more than 13 per cent market share in an industry populated with more than 50 LBCs.
The four -day conference was organised by the company as a platform to evaluate the past year's performance, sensitise managers and strategise for the next season.
The activities for this year's conference principally took place at the Bunsu Cocoa College in the Eastern Region, bringing together some 400 Olam Cocoa Managers from all the cocoa producing districts and regions.