Morocco – Literacy courses at Quality Bean Morocco
At 41.7%, illiteracy levels are still very high in rural Morocco. These levels are higher amongst women than men. Public schools often have insufficient resources, materials and teaching staff and in addition, have other structural problems which make it difficult for pupils to develop. Schools are sometimes situated miles away from rural villages and many families often have n means of transport to get there.
VOU is convinced that education, regardless of age, is the means to overcome poverty. In addition, schools offer children a safe environment, guidance, supervision and socialisation.
Quality Bean Morocco, our subsidiary in Morocco, has been involved in educational projects since 2007. QBM currently supports two primary schools where over 500 children receive education. In 2016, QBM entered into a partnership with Foundation Sanady, which supports pupils with problems across the whole of Morocco to prevent them dropping out of school early.
In 2010, QBM introduced literacy courses for its employees. This initiative has proved successful. The number of registrations for these courses increases every year. Over 600 employees have thus far learned to read and write.
Ethiopia - Greater biodiversity in bobby bean production in Ethiopia
Our Ethiopian partner’s production operations have become more diverse since 2015. Bobby beans, mangetout and sugar snaps are alternated with strips of coriander, wheat (buckwheat) and sorghum. These serve as habitats for natural predators and pests, which reduces the need for pesticides in vegetable cultivation.
The planting of crops that serve as habitats is one of the measures implemented in the BEB (Business & Biodiversity) initiative as part of the 'No net loss from cultivation to client’ concept. The goal of this project is to anchor biodiversity in operational management structurally. Starting with Ethiopia, after which the results can be followed through at other sites in Morocco, Senegal and other countries.
The company selects the pesticides with the lowest environmental footprint according to an updated environmental yardstick produced by the Centrum voor Landbouw en Milieu (CLM) consultancy. Our Ethiopian partner planted acacias and eucalyptus trees around the fields. A drip irrigation system ensures complete integration and efficiency of all measures collectively: efficient use of water enables crop rotation and ensures that synthetic fertiliser reaches the roots, which prevents it draining away and creating an environmental burden.
This project is a partnership initiative between VOU, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Wageningen University and Research Centre.
Senegal – Production of onions for the local market
Van Oers Senegal (VOS) was established in 2007 in Kirene in the west of Senegal - 70 kilometres from Dakar. Apart from VOS, there are only two other companies that offer employment opportunities to the different communities in that region, which is home to about 1 million people.
To promote lasting employment opportunities in Senegal after the export season, VOS decided to start cultivating onions in between two bobby bean harvests. In addition, the introduction of onions to the crop rotation programme also provides an important contribution to the preservation of healthy and fertile soil.
Onions are one of the staple foodstuffs in Senegalese households. Senegal is highly dependent on imported onions to meet internal demand, particularly in the summer months. The onions produced by VOS are sold primarily on the local market and occasionally in a sub-region. This contributes to self-sufficiency in respect of the country’s onion supply and promotes local entrepreneurship.
Because knowledge transfer is part of this project, VOS provided various training courses locally and organised open days, to which local market gardeners and other relevant stakeholders were invited.
This project is a partnership initiative between VOU, VOS and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
Senegal – Microfinancing as the catalyst for local entrepreneurship
In 2011, VOS established a microfinancing fund for a group of 40 women with a small contribution of € 2,000. They were seeking ways to increase their income and therefore wished to establish small businesses, but lacked the means. With the starting capital they received in the first year, they established fruit stalls and small shops offering groceries and other necessities. The initial financing was increased with the funds generated and more women have joined the group. Five years later, the continuous financing is four times as much and the group has grown to 100 women!
In 2016, VOS made a further contribution to the microfinancing project by purchasing eight sewing machines. The plan is to start a small sewing studio where work and school uniforms can be made.
Senegal – VOS Medical Clinic
The VOS medical clinic was established in 2016 and provides primary healthcare to its 4,000 employees. In recent years, VOS has invested a great deal in improving existing local healthcare facilities in communities around its production sites. In 2016, VOS went a step further by setting up its own clinic at a central location close to the nurseries. Employees can obtain medical assistance, advice and primary healthcare here at any time.
If you would like to support one or more of our projects, please contact our sustainability department.