The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana COCOBOD, James Kofi Kutsoati, has praised Olam Ghana Ltd, one of the country’s leading Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs,) for its contribution to the cocoa sub-sector of the economy.

The company, which was established in 1994, has made over US$150 million worth of investment into the cocoa sector, and has over 13percent market share in an industry which has more than 50 LBCs operating.

Speaking at this year’s Cocoa Managers Conference held in Accra under the theme: “Preserving the value of Ghana’s cocoa, the role of LBCs,” Mr. Kutsoati commended Olam for its continuous compliance with standards; and innovative schemes devised to lift farmers out of poverty.

“Olam Ghana Ltd has continually ensured quality through adherence to quality standards and through its certification programmes with farmers which now earns about 1,200 farmers’ higher premiums. Olams’ contribution to national development through community involvement and development in areas such as education is innovative and commendable.

For so many years, a major constraint for cocoa farmers has been the lack of funds or credit facilities. Olam Ghana has committed to providing interest-free loans to cocoa farmers to enable them procure farm inputs and other needs for their operations. This will go a long way to improve the standard of living of cocoa farmers,” Mr. Kutsoati said.

He further encouraged the company to continue employing the youth which will in turn spur their interest in cocoa farming, thereby, increasing yield to add to GDP.

Also speaking at the conference was the Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Samson Ahi, who urged Olam Ghana to introduce some insurance arrangements to cushion the farmers against accidental losses.

“Farmer based insurance schemes should be considered for implementation by Olams’ management for cocoa farmers. We have witnessed a lot of fires in the cocoa growing areas and investments that have taken years to build are sometimes destroyed within few hours by fires,” he said.

Mr. Ahi further stated that Olam Ghana should extend focus to the supply side of the sector to drive growth in the economy.

“Olam should also be concerned about the supply side issues of the industry. Issues bothering on soil infertility, climate change, supply of substandard agro-chemicals, and diseases and pests affecting the supply of cocoa beans should be of concern to Olam,” he advised.

Olam Ghana currently has 850 employees and 915 seasonal workers in 14 different locations.