A new public school block and mechanised water project in the cocoa producing region of Ashanti were inaugurated on Thursday as the latest investments from Olam Cocoa as part of its ongoing sustainability commitments in Ghana.
The refurbished classrooms provide a new education facility for junior high school students, while under the water project, mechanised boreholes will be constructed in 20 villages in the region to supply safe drinking water, adding to the existing 25 previously commissioned.
The activities are part of a wider social sustainability initiative from Olam Cocoa in Ghana, in partnership with Mondelēz, that focusses on improving access to and the quality of schools, water and health facilities, in the farming communities where it operates.
To date, this has included funding worth US$150,000 (800,000 Ghanaian Cedis) to local councils to support Government efforts to expand public education and in line with the companies’ shared commitment to eradicate child labour.
Speaking at the inauguration, Olam Co-Founder and CEO Sunny Verghese addressed an audience of over 400 students, teachers, rural and district chiefs, as well as the visiting Board of Olam International: “Since the beginning of our operations in Ghana 25 years ago, we have made it our business to support rural farming communities across the country. Our work in Bakoniaba with Mondelēz reflects our ongoing commitment to improving education and living standards for this generation and the next.”
These efforts build on Olam’s many existing sustainability programmes in Ghana designed to secure and enhance the livelihoods of farmers and households across its cocoa and cashew businesses. Today, 85,000 smallholder farmers are engaged in programmes to improve the quality and yields of their crop, as well as providing them with credit and social infrastructure support.
Beyond the farming communities, Olam’s Heathy Living campaign, run in partnership with the municipal health directorates is driving education, availability and access to better nutrition and disease prevention. 100,000 Ghanaians have benefited to date from vaccinations, testing and other support for HIV, post-natal care, health insurance, and dietary supplements. Through its grains and packaged foods businesses, the company also provides health screening for bakers and nutritionally fortified food products for the domestic market.