Source: Tanzania Daily News
OLAM Tanzania Limited, the major processor of cashew nut in Tanzania, survey findings show that farming of the crop has social impacts of female employment.

The survey done last month, was undertaken into the social impacts of female employment in its cashew processing plants in emerging markets. Tanzania is part of the countries in which nearly 6,000 women from rural communities and other countries of Cote d'Ivoire, India, Mozambique, Nigeria and Vietnam were asked to choose the single most important reason they value their job, beyond the obvious financial benefits.

According to the findings, some 36 per cent identified that working "gives them independence and choices." 33 per cent singled out the impact on 'status and confidence,' while 19 per cent felt that "I learn useful information to take back to my family."

Just 11 per cent of respondents answered 'none of these.' Commenting on the findings, Mr Briony Mathieson, the Head of Corporate & Sustainability Communications said, "As a global employer, Olam is well placed to help understand how opportunities in agricultural processing, rather than in subsistence farming, are supporting women in remote rural communities.

These findings - although only an anecdotal snapshot - strongly suggest that these jobs provide much more than just a wage packet. "The findings of our survey clearly reinforce that the value of working together in a sociable and supportive environment cannot be under-estimated." According to the UN's FAO report, on average 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force of developing countries is women.

It notes that "new jobs in high-value, export-oriented agro-industries offer much better opportunities for women than traditional agricultural work." It goes on to state: "A very large body of research from many countries around the world confirms that putting more income in the hands of women yields beneficial results for child nutrition, health and education. Other measures - such as improving education - that increase women's influence within the household are also associated with better outcomes for children."

The research reflects Olam's commitment to creating positive impacts in the communities in which it operates. For example, processing crops, such as cashews, closer to where they are grown not only reduces financial costs but reduces carbon miles, retains economic value from the crops within the country of origin and creates more employment in rural areas, particularly for women.

In its sourcing operations and through collaboration with partners, Olam provides education and business skills development for women employed in "traditional agricultural work." These programmes, which put equal emphasis on men, help to improve crop yields, secure income and create greater capacity for self-sustaining communities. Mr Briony added, "It is clear that employment helps to build confidence and status among women, giving them choices and improving prospects for their children.

If the theme of International Women's Day is gathering momentum though gender equality, our research suggests more focus on rural employment would be a big move in the right direction." Olam International is a leading global integrated supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients, supplying various products across 16 platforms to over 12,300 customers worldwide.

The incorporation of Olam Tanzania marked Olam's entry into East Africa. The operations were started with the establishment of the principal office at Dar es Salaam and a branch in Mtwara to oversee the raw cashew nuts and sesame procurement operations.

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