A successful business model means a commitment to responsible business practices that result in a sustainable supply chain. And a truly efficient supply chain requires promoting human rights, protecting the environment, and supporting ethical business conduct. At the core of Red River Foods is “CSR,” or corporate social responsibility.
Buyers of today and major purchasers of tomorrow want to know where suppliers acquire their food, how it is traced along the supply chain, and the methods used to ensure food safety. When you source commodities and products from Red River, you gain the confidence of knowing there will never be a question around quality and long-term sustainability of your product line.
Red River’s CSR Efforts
As a company, we invest with dollars and people-power in causes that are important in the regions where we operate. We help local farmers improve their processes, invest in environmental efforts that improve ecosystems, and support local programs that serve the needs of families.
Cashews in Ghana
West Africa has emerged as a world player in the cashew industry. We have increased our involvement there through our largest CSR program, the Cashew Initiative, which seeks to increase farmer yields and improve raw cashew nut quality while improving the lives of the farmers that harvest the nuts. We have expanded best agricultural practices training to numerous communities throughout Ghana. Though Ghana has been the focus of the effort, there is increasing interest in Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Senegal, Gambia, and Mozambique. Through the program we hope to exponentially increase the number of lives impacted throughout Africa. The activities of our Cashew Initiative include:
- Beekeeping – We provide farmers with beekeeping equipment and training in order to increase cashew yields through pollination. Not only does this grow farmer incomes through increased cashews, but farmers are able to sell the resulting honey and wax as a supplementary source of ancillary income.
- Pruning and Thinning – To promote safety and proper harvesting techniques, we provide chainsaws (and training), protective clothing, and pruning education. By correctly spacing cashew trees and pruning their branches, cashew yields dramatically increase.
- Seedlings – We give back what we buy: Over the years, we have provided thousands of seedlings to dozens of farmers in every African community where Red River operates.
Kokoa Maternity Ward
Access to maternity care is a major obstacle for rural residents in many parts of Ghana. Unfortunately, maternal mortality remains high in this West African country; for every 100,000 women in labor, 350 die while giving birth. While free maternal care and other government programs are achieving positive results in some areas of the country, the Brong Ahafo region, where Red River sources cashews, continues to lack adequate health care facilities, emergency units, and trained personnel. To help generate funds necessary to build a maternity ward in Kokoa that allows women to receive timely care and prevent overcrowding, Red River agreed to buy raw cashew nuts from the community at the existing market price plus a premium to help fund the ward. The effort is a partnership among Red River, Costco, the Peace Corps, and the Kokoa community. In addition to the ward, Red River is developing a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with the Kokoa people where we pay a premium for their cashews to help residents continue developing the community.
Brazil Nuts and Rainforest Preservation
Brazil nuts are one of the biggest actors aiding in the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and development of Amazonian communities. Rainforests are worlds governed by complex ecological interdependencies, meaning disruption of one link will result in a devastating chain reaction. Harvesting brazil nuts requires an interdependency of a rodent called the agoutis, orchids, and bees (read all about it on our blog) – plus, many families in Brazil rely on the nut harvest as a stable source of income. The Brazil nut trade is a large source of economic support for the governments and communities of producing countries, so there is great incentive to keep the Amazon rainforest healthy – no rainforest, no brazil nuts. For these reasons, we partner with respected non-governmental organizations in their attempt to fight deforestation to protect both the trees and the communities that rely on their harvests. To learn more about the fascinating story of the Brazil nut, visit our story section.