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Cargill Siam Marks Thai King’s Birthday With Habitat Build

100 Staff Volunteer In Northeastern Thailand As Part Of 10-House Project

MAHASARAKHAM, Thailand, 23rd January 2008: “Being a good corporate citizen means being a good local citizen,” according to Cargill’s 2007 Corporate Citizenship Review. The international food and agricultural products group demonstrated its belief aptly in a recent build.

In honor of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Cargill partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build 10 homes for families in need in northeastern Thailand. The project marked the 80th birthday celebrations of His Majesty King Bhumibol, who is also the world’s longest-reigning monarch.

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Here we go: Cargill volunteers form a chain to pass bricks used in construction.

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One for the album: Cargill staff from Thailand, China and Singapore helped to build the first seven houses in Mahasarakham province as part of a 10-house project.

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Joy: Dennis Seah (in yellow), recognized by Habitat for his outstanding volunteer service, celebrate with a home partner.

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Mission accomplished: (From left) HFH Thailand CEO Panida Panyangarm, Thierry Regnier, controller of Cargill’s poultry business and Cargill’s Dennis Seah at a house built by Cargill volunteers.

The project began with a two-day build by Cargill staff in Mahasarakham province, about 470 km. north of Bangkok. About 100 employees from Cargill’s operations in China and Singapore as well as Thailand helped to build the first seven houses in three communities in Borabue district. The volunteers carried out tasks such as mixing cement and laying bricks.

One of the volunteers, Khomsan Pinthapakang, senior manager, program production department, said: “Although this is my first time, I am impressed with what I saw: the homeowners and the volunteers bonding together while working on the house. It was a very happy sight to see. I’ll definitely do this again if given the chance.”

Characteristic of the northeastern Thai provinces, the poverty level is high in Mahasarakham. While agriculture is the main occupation in the region, scarcity of rain and long dry seasons make Mahasarakham susceptible to droughts. Rapid migration to Bangkok and other cities means families are left behind in the villages, lacking sustainable employment and often living in homes in dire need of repairs. The partnership between Habitat and Cargill serves to give low-income families in Mahasarakham a leg-up, promote corporate social responsibility and partnership between business, government and communities.

Chaiwat Ratkhajon, vice-governor of Mahasarakham, who gave a speech before the start of the build, said: “We are grateful that HFH Thailand and Cargill have a project in this area. Your efforts have improved the villagers’ quality of life; we fully support this project and we are willing to provide support in terms of information and logistics.”

“Cargill is grateful to be able to honor His Majesty the King on his 80th birthday anniversary by supporting his vision to help the less fortunate,” said Prasit Maekwatana, Cargill’s country representative. “This project is part of Cargill’s long-term partnership with Habitat Thailand to help Thai society by providing families with improved housing facilities. This is in line with our commitment to make a positive impact in the communities where we operate.”

After the end of the first day’s build, the volunteers also witnessed the presentation of Habitat’s Nehemiah Award for outstanding volunteer service to Dennis Seah, former general manager of Cargill Siam Ltd and a dedicated volunteer. Seah is now based in China in his new posting with Cargill.

Since 2001, Cargill Siam has contributed more than US$102,000 toward local Habitat programs. Cargill Siam has also funded 17 Habitat houses under the regular program and 49 houses under the tsunami reconstruction in the south of Thailand. The group’s goal is to build more than 100 houses by 2010.

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the US, Cargill has 158,000 employees in 66 countries.