TURKEY – Olam Food Ingredients is scaling up its efforts to make enhance the sustainability profile of the hazelnut supply chain. 

To this end, the company has created the Hazelnut Trail, which targets a series of commitments around education, diversity, and climate action to be achieved by 2030. 

To make hazelnut more sustainable, OFI has said that it is looking for partners to scale efforts in tackling poor labor conditions – including child workers and miserable wages – in hazelnut communities in Turkey.  

All targets in the Hazelnut trail are aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including no poverty, zero hunger, good health & wellbeing, and quality education, among others. 

OFI has an uphill task in achieving its target as the Turkish region where hazelnuts are grown is beset with societal challenges, like poor working conditions for thousands of seasonal migrant workers and child labor.  

The Turkish Statistical Institute estimates at least 200,000 farmworkers are children who follow parents onto hazelnut, apricot, cumin, grape, sugar beet, potato, and pistachio farms across the region.  

These children are tasked with exhausting and dangerous work, such as carrying heavy loads up and down steep hillsides in hot weather.  

Ashok Krishen, CEO of OFI’s nuts platform acknowledges the child labor issue in his statement to the press.  

He says: “Ever since OFI started working in Turkey nearly a decade ago, it’s been clear that unsafe working conditions and child labor are among the most pressing issues facing the sector. 

In this time, OFI, together with our customers and partners, including the Fair Labour Association, International Labor Organization and Save the Children, has supported over 20,000 hazelnut farmers and workers with agronomy, labour rights, and community services.”  

To further improve incomes of hazelnut farmers, OFI in 2018, set a benchmark for Turkey’s agricultural sector by introducing labor contracts for seasonal migrant workers, with minimum wage guarantees and legal working hours.  

“Our closeness to farmers is key to creating products with the strong provenance and sustainability impact that consumers crave,” added Krishen.  

“Our new strategy now challenges us to do more. And we need new partners to help us solve challenges and unleash more value for the people and communities behind our hazelnuts.” 

OFI’s recent move follows the company’s launch of the Cashew Trail in June which aims to improve the living outcomes of cashew farmers who are among the poorest in the world. 

According to OFI,  most of these farmers are smallholders in rural Africa and Asia, who cannot always grow enough to feed their families, afford healthcare or send their children to school. 

OFI – which has directly supported over 50,000 cashew farmers over the past decade – hopes to change this by encouraging others in the sector to collaborate for measurable change. 

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