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What do we know about Olam in Nigeria?



In recent times, Olam’s subsidiary in Nigeria has come under incendiary attack from the media over watery allegations of engaging in unethical practices.

In our search for truth, we delve into the company’s history in Nigeria and see if over time the activities of this multinational reflect anything close to the allegations being levelled against them.

Olam Group started its operations in Africa from Nigeria in 1989- some 34 years ago.

The company has always attributed its success on the continent to its pioneer initiative in Nigeria.

The agribusiness multinational’s first foray in Nigeria in 1989 was in trading cashew nuts between Nigeria and India.

However, over time its activities transversed sesame, cotton, wheat milling, animal feed and soyabean- its newest venture.

Nigeria has proven to be one of Olam’s biggest success stories and through this, the company has been able to expand its presence to 67 other countries across the globe. Although, the relationship between Nigeria and Olam is symbiotic- the company creates jobs and contributes to government revenues through taxes and other Nigeria-centric activities.

Beyond its contribution to macroeconomic growth, the company has played a significant role in developing Nigeria’s agricultural sector in terms of increasing food production, improving food security and ensuring maximum flow of capital to the sector.

The company has executed a number of projects in this regard. In 2014, the company established a cutting-edge dry hulling and sorting plant in Sagamu, Ogun state. This project enabled sesame hulling and exporting through which Nigeria earned valuable foreign exchange.

Also, Olam’s 4,451 hectares of fully integrated rice farms in Nasarawa state which further supports 13,500 hectares of rice farms in low-income communities is a testament to the company’s drive to helping local communities and farmers grow, earn and become self-sustaining.

This investment is in sync with the vision of the Nigerian government over time- to grow locally what Nigerians eat, diversify the economy and create wealth for local farmers.

Furthermore, Olam’s project “Seed for Future” is another area where the company has been doing tremendous work.

The project is anchored on five core foundations namely; providing support for farmers and farming communities, women empowerment, educational and skill development for young people, promoting health and nutrition and reducing CO2 emissions.

A cursory look at this initiative reveals it aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that focus on gender equality, climate action, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth etc.

Crown Flour Mill- a subsidiary of Olam 2021 launched a 10-year $750,000 (N300 million) community seed project geared towards helping Nigerian farmers increase their wheat production.

Through this research local wheat cultivation is enhanced thereby empowering farmers with up-to-date knowledge and fast-tracking food sufficiency.

The seed project of Olam subsidiary- Crown Flour Mill is being carried out in partnership with reputable local and international agro-research partners notably the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO).

Olam has funded these projects to the tune of millions of dollars in Nigeria and also boasts of a workforce of over 4500 people cutting across diverse sectors of the Nigerian economy.

Over the past three decades of its activities in Nigeria, Olam has attracted Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) into the country despite periods of macroeconomic travails in the country.

The activities and global standing of Olam does not seem to be one to involve in unethical practices as alleged by some segment of the Nigerian media. If the media landscape continues in such a campaign of calumny, it’s just a matter of time before not just Olam but other multinationals in other industries divest out of Nigeria.

Such moves will be deleterious to a struggling economy and bourgeoning workforce.

After delving into the activities of Olam over time, it becomes apparent that, unlike other conglomerates that exist solely for profit maximization, Olam is concerned about Nigeria and Nigerians and wants to be a partner in the country’s quest to achieve its potential.

Such organisations are a gem to any nation and Nigeria should do all it can to protect Olam from falshoods.