Olam’s operations in Zimbabwe began in 2005 when we set up our cotton operations. We currently run an integrated cotton ginning model that provides inputs like planting seeds, fertilisers and chemicals on credit to small and marginal farmers. We provide them with agronomy support and then buy their crops back for cash, following which we gin the seed cotton and export the lint.
Starting off as a fledgling business, we soon became the third largest cotton player in Zimbabwe due to our widely-recognised slogan “Shamwari Yemurimi” – which in the local Shona language means ‘A Farmer’s Friend’. Today, we support 26,000 farmers over 50,000 hectares of cotton through our country-wide network of 14 depots. This translates to about 14,500 tonnes of lint exported. We employ over 150 people throughout the year which during procurement season increase to around 1,500 people.
Post dollarisation in 2009, we established our grains business – maize, soy and wheat – all previously controlled by the Zimbabwean Government. In 2010, we extended our business scope to include rice, a growing need as a result of the country’s retail boom.