How does the concept of 'Kaizen' provide continuous improvement on their farm?
By: THURSD. | 15-07-2020 | 4 min read
Sustainability in Floriculture
Marginpar embraces the need for more sustainability. They want to go beyond compliance within the country's legislation and strive to meet international best-practice standards in our industry. The farms actively pursue benefits to people - their force and communities - and the environment. Two Marginpar managers, Managing Director Rob Koning and CEO Richard Fernandes proudly tell about how 'Kaizen' - the constant need for improvement - is linked to sustainability in floriculture.
Director Rob Koning:
"We are a proud member of the FSI2020 initiative. FSI stands for Floriculture Sustainability Initiative. Together, we want to achieve sustainable production of 90% for all plants and flowers. When it comes to environmental sustainability, there is still a lot of work to be done. At the moment, we look very closely at the ways pesticides and fertilizer are being used. We are changing over to the use of LED lights, which enables us to significantly reduce the amount of energy needed for production. We use solar panels where possible and we make sure that the companies are using the available water as smartly as possible. All of the precipitation is being harvested and stored in large lagoons. But we want to do more, want to achieve more. We look beyond what is strictly necessary and truly go for the extra mile when it comes to sustainability."
CEO Richard Fernandes:
"We have a corporate social responsibility. Marginpar has already invested heavily in social matters in recent years. For example, we assist the villages in the vicinity of our projects. We’ve helped build several schools and additional classrooms. We support children going to high school. We support the physically handicapped. We partner with the government concerning security issues like burglary and carjacking. We provide soap and other essentials to daycare centers. We try to improve the roads. And if our employees make specific requests, we help them. Practical support, that's what it's all about for us."
Richard Fernandes continues:
"We implemented a Japanese method of working: Kaizen. This management system allows staff participation and recommendations for improved production and farm operations. All the employees, from management to the persons in the field, develop a great sense of ownership in their work. As a result, the Marginpar Group has only a 2% turnover in its total staff, and 50% of positions are filled by women. There are issues with clean drinking water, so every employee is allowed to take five liters of clean water home each day. We have a nurse and a medical team on each farm. And each day, we provide a nutritious meal for all workers."
In an online statement on sustainability, Marginpar declares: "We are serious about environmental improvements. Through resource-efficiency, cleaner production, promoting biodiversity, and environmental remediation. Kaizen teams measure resource usages and seeking ongoing efficiency improvement. For example, the aqua check units enable the monitoring of water levels in the soil profile down to a depth of 60cm, this has resulted in up to 25% water saving. All farms generate their own compost out of flower trim. Storm and flood water are harvested for re-use in a containment dam. And to reduce the amount of pesticides used, we use ‘spot spraying’. Flower pickers are trained to recognize types of pests, each presented by a different color flag. They plant the appropriate color flag where the pest was seen, and the pesticide is applied in that area only."
All Marinpar's locations in Kenya are KFC Silver Label Certificated by the Kenya Flower Council. This certificate is based on environmental and socio-economic principles that ensure certified producers foster sustainable, responsible, and safe production of cut flowers and ornamentals. The Standard covers good agricultural practice, human resource management and workers welfare, good governance, health & safety, environmental protection & conservation, and post-harvest management.
In Ethiopia, their farm has MPS-A and MPS-SQ certification. The MPS-ABC certificate is a unique world standard and works as a benchmark in demonstrating to what extent their operations are environmentally friendly. There are three different levels, MPS-A, MPS-B, and MPS-C. MPS-A certified is the most environmentally friendly. MPS-SQ stands for ‘Socially Qualified’ and focuses on Health & Safety, and good working conditions.
Farm Manager Peterson Thuita features in a three-minute video, where he explains how his farm implements the concept of 'Continuous Improvement' or 'Kaizen':