(A general overview of Olam Agri’s operational footprints in Cameroon since 1996)
Olam’s rich history and deep understanding of Africa stretches over the past 30 years. Why Africa, one may ask? Africa is fast-moving from subsistence agriculture to a more intensified form of agriculture capable of feeding the world. A case study for better scope into Olam’s activities in Africa is Cameroon. Over the past 27 years, the company has been a stalwart partner in the country, working closely with the authorities, industry, and farming communities in Cameroon to help in the socio-economic development of the country.
In 2020, Olam announced a reorganisation which saw the creation of two distinct operating, ofi and Olam Agri. The latter is driven by its purpose to transform food, feed, and fibre for a more sustainable future. Olam Agri’s products include grains & oilseeds, animal feed & protein, rice, edible oils, specialty grains & seeds, cotton, wood products, rubber, and commodity financial services.
Olam Agri remains steadfast in its commitment to Africa and Cameroon. Since its establishment in Cameroon, the company and country have been working side by side as partners to improve the economy of the country. Its initiatives have reflected the company’s strategy, purpose, and vision and responded to the many challenges in meeting the needs of the country and a growing global population. It has been a story of corporate commitment to the economic growth of the country, creating jobs for its dynamic young workforce, and delivering quality food products to Cameroonian customers and consumers. This partnership thrived while at the same time achieving a positive impact for farming communities and for all its stakeholders.
Olam Agri embraced its responsibility toward the community in ensuring the uninterrupted supply of the two most important food items in Cameroonian dietary habits. The company supplies in excess of 180,000 metric tons of rice per annum to the local market, and over 150,000 metric tons of its annual supply of wheat flour topping the chart as the top seller of essential commodities in the country. The company as a mark of its long-term commitment to the country’s economy and food security agenda adopted a critical position in the supply chain. This involves the import and distribution of rice and processing of wheat into flour with world-class technology situated in Bekoko.
Its grains requirement materialised in a 2012 investment of approximately CFA30 billion in a state-of-the-art modern wheat milling facility – with a capacity of 600 metric tons per day – on the outskirts of Douala. The highly automated plant was commissioned in March 2015 and produces wheat flour products that cater to market requirements ranging from beignet, standard baguette, premium baguette, and toast bread in the brand name of BIJOU which is a household name.
The investment has benefited allied industries and service providers and generated both direct and indirect employment. It has also provided Olam Agri with a platform for further community engagement and social welfare activities.
Olam Agri Cameroon’s rice division has become one of the most important contributors to the food security effort of the country. As one of the nation’s top distributors of rice, it has established an extensive network that helps to meet the nutrition needs of communities across all 10 regions. It ensures the value and availability of rice to one-third of 27 million Cameroonian consumers by meeting the demands of the local consumer in all segments.
Focusing on quality and taste, Olam’s rice brands – Riz Mémé and Riz Bijou– have become some of the most recognisable and trusted in the country. Riz Bijou and Riz Mémé Cassé were designated as the best rice brands in Cameroon in 2018 and 2021 respectively and continue to rank as favorites among premium rice brand consumers.
In response to the growing deficiencies in Cameroon as observed by the country’s Ministry of Public Health and other international organisations, Olam Agri Cameroon’s Riz bijou fortifié was introduced as the first-ever and only fortified rice brand with high nutritive values on the market. This portrayed commitment to closing the wide micro-nutrient deficient gap persistent in the country thereby targeting the mass consumer segment which is the largest segment and reaching as many Cameroonians as possible.
Olam Agri continues to seek more ways of contributing to the economy of Cameroon and to its people. The company’s leadership is highly optimistic about the future of food and agri-business in the country and is committed to increasing its investment, involvement, and commitment to Cameroon. “A new and refreshed brand identity as Olam Agri in Cameroon is indeed an exciting milestone for us. We are truly looking forward to continuing to explore new avenues for contributing to the economy, generating more employment opportunities, and supporting the wellbeing of the entire country including all the stakeholders and its inhabitants,” said Veeresh Mallikarjun Hiremath, Country Head of Olam Agri in Cameroon.