National farmers' days are providing Olam with the opportunity to celebrate the work of the millions of farmers who work with the company across the world. In this article we describe some of the events and their benefits to farmers
As a private sector company working with over 4.8m smallholder farmers across 60 countries, we know we are in the unique position to impact the lives of farmers and the farming community by celebrating National Farmers' Day with them.
National Farmers' Day, is a day set aside to recognise, celebrate and thank the hardworking men and women who contribute to the economy and feed nations.
Not a new concept, our first lesson while exploring the initiative was recognising that not every country has a pre-assigned day specifically dedicated to farmers and for those countries who do, it is a government owned day. By government owned we mean a day allotted by the country's government for the celebration, also setting the theme and agenda for the occasion.
Helping smallholders sell to each other
With that background in mind, we set out to organise our first event, an agricultural fair at our coffee estate in Kasama, Zambia. Little did we realise the impact it would have amongst the farmers themselves. We encouraged smallholder farmers from the neighboring villages to bring their homegrown produce and sell at the agri-fair.
On 6 August 2018--Zambia's National Farmers' Day--200 farmers descended on Kateshi Coffee Estate in the Mafinga Hills of Zambia's Northern Province for the fair, dedicated to showcasing smallholder farmers. It's one of five estates that are owned by Northern Coffee Corporation Limited (NCCL), which has been part of the Olam family since 2012.
For some farmers, the sheer abundance of customers at this event made it one of their most lucrative days of the year, by a distance.
"We sold everything we brought with us, chickens, goats, vegetables, pumpkin cakes, sweet potatoes, soya sausages and everything else--every last thing", said Gabriel Katongo.
"It normally takes us a long time to sell the amount we've sold here today." And that income can go towards helping them develop their farms to buy farm items like a water pump to irrigatea much bigger farm.
Connected to the bigger picture
Our second lesson was realising smallholder farmers can sometimes feel cut off from the wider farming community, working in isolation and missing out the opportunity to interact with others in their industry.
For our second...