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Olam honoured for using digital platform to empower smallholder farmers

BY Chisom ADA

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Olam has been recognised for making a difference in farmers’ lives through its Olam Direct platform at Innovation Leader’s 2020 Impact Awards.

olam recieves award

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Now in its third year, Innovation Leader’s Impact Awards honour companies with corporate innovation initiatives that have run for at least a year and delivered extraordinary outcomes with measurable business results.

Olam’s entry for ‘Olam Direct’ emerged as a winner in the Impact Award category, having earned the recognition of an esteemed judging panel from organisations including Verizon, Philips Healthcare, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, CME Group, Dover Corporation, Duke Energy and Cambia Health Solutions.

Powered by apps, a portal and an analytics dashboard, Olam Direct is a holistic platform connecting farmers with Olam to ensure a fair and transparent sourcing process for all. The app empowers farmers to get prices and transact directly with the company rather than going through intermediaries, which yields not only higher prices for farmers but cost savings on their expenses, as Olam manages ‘last mile’ collection.

The highlights of Olam Direct include that the initiative registered and benefited over 70,000 farmers across 12 countries, allowing them to transact with or without internet; each transaction is geo-tagged and timestamped allowing for traceability and consistency; unique value proposition provides traceability, allowing customers to get greater transparency on farmer activities and created new employment opportunities for rural communities by appointing former intermediaries as micro-collectors for Olam Direct.

The Group Head of Digital, Olam International, Siddharth Satpute, said, “We are honoured by this recognition. Our aim is to bring transparency and traceability to the agriculture supply chain. Many under-estimate how difficult it can be to establish direct buying relationships with farmers in very rural areas; and, equally, for farmers to connect to large exporters.

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“Through our Indonesia pilot in 2017, we understood that a farmer’s’ greatest needs are: ‘How can I get a better price?’ and ‘Who can collect and pay me on time?’ Olam Direct is the resulting model, although we continue to learn and improve with every new supply chain and country’s specific circumstances. Crucially, the platform’s reach and flexibility has proved invaluable during COVID-19 as we have been able to issue health advisories and raise awareness about the virus through in-app notifications and news in the farmers’ local language.”

The CEO and editor-in-chief of Innovation Leader, Scott Kirsner, said: “2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for innovators in big organizations. So, we’re really excited to be able to shine a spotlight on some of the people and programmes that have been creating positive change. The Impact Awards are all about people who keep moving ahead, no matter what the obstacles — and that’s something really worth celebrating this year!”

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