Malnutrition is a major problem for cashew farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire. Across the country, around one in five children under the age of five are stunted; a serious condition caused by chronic malnutrition that prevents children from reaching their physical and cognitive potential. In July 2020, Olam took part in a massive public health drive, reaching hundreds of thousands of children with nutritional support.

Olam has been working with cashew producers in Côte d’Ivoire since 2011. Our Sustainable Cashew Growers Programme (SCGP) focuses on technical training and support to increase the productivity and incomes of around 30,000 farmers.

While gathering health and nutrition data for AtSource, we discovered areas where the well-being of farmers could be improved. This prompted a survey to help us better understand the food and nutrition needs of cashew-farming households.

The results of the survey have allowed to us to develop the SCGP with new strategies such as crop diversification and nutrition education. At the same time, we’re continuing ourlong-term efforts to tackle the underlying causes of malnutrition, like limited access to clean water.

Despite the progress, we realise that no one can tackle such widespread issues alone. By partnering with other organisations, we can increase our reach and impact. Last summer’s work was part of Côte d’Ivoire’s National Nutrition Program run by the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene. It also involved UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, Hellen Keller International and the Government of Canada.

Olam teams worked across 230 villages, mobilising communities and delivering the support. Specifically targeting those under five, the campaign provided vitamin A supplements to 2.5 million children, deworming tablets to 400,000 children, and screened 200,000 children for acute malnutrition across regions with poor nutrition. In total, 2,140 children in the campaign were found to be malnourished. Of those, some 1,500 were linked with treatment and care at local health clinics.

Olam teams worked across 230 villages, mobilising communities and helping to deliver the support to some 55,000 of the children.

Vitamin A supplementation is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of a child dying before their fifth birthday. While removing intestinal infections means children can absorb nutrients better and growth healthily. Scientific research from The Lancet shows that these interventions are among the best tools to fight childhood malnutrition and its lifelong consequences.

“We have never seen anything like this. Besides buying our crops, Olam takes care of our health.”

- Mr. Fofana cashew nut farmer – Bouila villaage, Séguéla region 

“Today more than ever it’s essential to ensure good nutrition for our partner communities. Cashew farms are only viable if the farmers are healthy, so we’re proud to have been part of this effort.”

- Diomande Daouda,  Head of Sustainable Procurement & Sustainability Coordinator – Cashew, Côte d’Ivoire 

Our work with cashew farmers in Côte d’Ivoire demonstrates the benefits of gathering accurate data. By capturing key health and nutrition metrics on AtSource, we and our customers can see what issues, like malnutrition, need addressing, where progress is being made and where we have to investigate further.