AFRICA – Olam Cocoa, one of the world’s leading suppliers of cocoa beans and cocoa ingredients has geared up its support to cocoa farming communities tackling COVID-19 across Central and West Africa with a donation of personal protective equipment (PPE), important medical supplies and food parcels.

According to the company’s press-release, farming cooperatives, hospitals and health centres will receive the much-needed equipment including face masks, surgical gloves, hand sanitizers, thermometers and hands-free washing stations.

The support includes 99,500 masks for health workers and farmers in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon; 30,900 bottles of hand sanitizers for health workers and farmers across the four countries and over 1,200 hands-free washing stations in farming communities in the respective countries.

Vulnerable communities struggling with the rising price of basic food staples as a result of the pandemic will receive the food parcels.

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.

On sensitizing communities on preventive measures to be undertaken to curb the spread of the virus, Olam will undertake 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.

In addition, 1,970 posters and push notifications on WHO guidance around hygiene, social distancing and child labour prevention to increase awareness in cocoa communities in Côte d’Ivoire will be distributed.

The supplier will also continue its 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

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.”

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 US$3.5m of in-kind and financial support to the global fight against COVID-19.

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.