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ORGANIC TRADE & INVESTMENTS (OTI) IS AN EXPORT trading company and online retail store, which promotes the use of organic and natural products while supporting small scale farmers and producers who practice sustainable organic farming in Ghana to protect biodiversity and improve people’s livelihoods.
OTI encourages their farmers and producers to:
– Invest in renewable energy such as solar energy, and eliminating petroleum-based pesticides
– Practice efficient irrigation management by using drip irrigation and planting cover crops
– Use sustainable farming practices, such as using natural and organic fertilizers like neem seeds or moringa cake powder to increase soil health.
Furthermore, OTI supports small-scale farmers and producers’ markets and local food. OTI’s online platform enables buyers to view available products and place their orders. The company then arranges third-party delivery services to collect the orders from the farms and transport the products to the port of loading. This is to ensure that the products are transported shorter distances to reduce greenhouse gas emissions..
ESTHER ASANTE IS THE FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR of Organic Trade & Investments, a Ghanaian-based company that uses neglected and underutilized, yet traditional, crops of Ghana, to make packaged food and cosmetics for the international market. Everything began when Esther found out that eating non-organic, highly processed and standardized food wasn’t good for her health but, nonetheless, she could not find in the market any alternatives to those kinds of unhealthy foods. She soon realized that organic food and biodiversity were the key to a more healthy life and she launched OTI.
OTI signs Purchase Contracts and a Supplier Code of Conduct with organic farmers and producers. The company sources raw organic ingredients directly from farmers and, where a pre-processing is needed, from the processor. Those suppliers are paid directly with mobile money, and for greater amounts, via bank transfers.
OTI does the second step of processing the crops, and then packages the different products. Then the products are ready to be shipped to the end consumer, who can purchase the products both in physical shops and, primarily, through their e-commerce. In a country like Ghana, air cargo is poorly connected with many of the target markets of their products (such as New Zealand), so OTI found sea shipping as the best solution to connect with a global supply chain.
Besides paying a fair price to their suppliers to incentivize them to cultivate neglected crops and do it following organic farming standards, OTI is implementing its own specific Code of Conduct that is included in OTI’s Standard Training Modules. These modules – run in collaboration with the Trade for Sustainable Development, T4SD program of the International Trade Cente – are providing OTI’s suppliers with capacity building, support in getting organic certifications (that will help them to expand their market and secure livelihood) and community infrastructure building. This approach not only helps to build trust between agri-e-commerce businesses and farmers but also secures a form of benefit-sharing for the farmers,that will also have a more positive impact on biodiversity conservation.