Degraded soil affects nearly one-third of Earth’s land area making healthy soil a priority area for ofi. In 2021, we developed our Sustainable Olam Initiative for Living Soils (S.O.I.L.S). The Sustainable Olam Initiative for Living Soils is a multifaceted approach towards protecting and restoring degraded land.
One aspect of S.O.I.L.S is an innovative soil balancing project with the goals of improving soil health and biodiversity, increasing garlic and onion yields through healthier plants, and reducing pest and disease pressure. Additionally, S.O.I.L.S will help us explore regenerative practices in large-scale farming systems, decrease greenhouse gas emissions through reduced fertilizer applications, and increase carbon sequestration from healthier soils. ofi have partnered with Soil Basics to conduct this research in two garlic fields and four onion fields in the Central Valley of California and two onion fields in the Imperial Valley in Southern California.
Farmers and Farming Systems
Tackling Health and Safety in India
ofi strongly believes that health and safety in the workplace are essential for farmers to thrive. In India, 150 ofi spice farmers and their family members were able to attend clinic visits. ofi hosted four medical camps that provided the community with general check-ups, blood pressure, and sugar-level testing, along with medicine. The camps also distributed first aid kits, masks, and hand sanitizer to the community.
Along with keeping farmers healthy, ofi is also committed to keeping them safe from work-related hazards. To protect farmers when they’re dealing with pesticides in the field, ofi provided over 500 pieces of personal protective equipment to farmers in our chilli and turmeric supply chain. Additionally, we conducted trainings on how to handle pesticides safely. Going forward, visual poster boards on the farms and individual risk assessments are being provided to help avoid occupational hazards.
Upholding our Values with Farmers
Every calendar year, ofi conducts a training for large format farmers on health, safety, labor laws, good labor practices, and our Supplier Code to align and ensure compliance with ofi policies. This allows us to partner with suppliers who share our goals of social responsibility, economical profitability, and environmental sustainability. The program takes a total of 10 training hours to complete. One representative from each farm is nominated to attend this training program every year so they can share what they learned back on their respective farm.
ProGirls Initiatives in Egypt
In Egypt, ofi set out to break down barriers to women in agriculture by encouraging female students to explore the field through a partnership with EconoWin. The ProGirls initiative included an internship for five female students to learn from ofi female employees in quality assurance and agriculture roles and gain first-hand knowledge and experience.
Helping the Community in Brazil
Heavy rainstorms in late November and early December caused major damage to several Brazilian cities in the surrounding area of our pepper estate, south of the Bahia state and home to many ofi employees. The team in Brazil quickly formed a committee to evaluate how to support the families in need. The Brazil HR team assessed the storms’ impact on 29 families in the damaged area and provided them with pantry staples and household items.