SUSTAINABILITY

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

For many large and small corporations across Europe and the United States, and probably Asia too, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ is something that modern companies have to do – it is fashionable and correct, and even has its own department and Annual Report, which of course is designed to make a show of combatting the profit-at-any-cost side of ‘nasty capitalism’ – ‘be nice to the community and to the people, no matter how you behave to make your profits’.

But it does not have to be this way. For the family behind Agrotime, Social Responsibility is in the DNA.

Quoting  from the late Ivan Krachunov Senior “Everything in this world is done with people, with a team – people are the mighty engine that makes things happen…”

And this is what makes up the fundamentals of true social responsibility – the appreciation of people, and of the land, and the need and desire to maximise what God gave, at the same time supporting small and very small farmers in the region, and helping with the introduction of better quality grain, and building up a reputation –  for all Bulgaria, and encouraging adding value and reducing waste – these are the fundamentals of social responsibility, perfectly exemplified at the Launch of the Borisa Cherry Sorting Line in May 2016, when after the great ceremony all the staff involved, not just the VIPs from abroad and from the banks and from the suppliers, but EVERYONE with any involvement, sat down together for a great family lunch. This is not to be found in management textbooks, but in DNA…”

[personal view by Barbara Page-Roberts, British Management Consultant, who has been working  (and now lives) in Bulgaria for more than 30 years].

ENVIRONMENT

We operate in a naturally very fertile region of Bulgaria, which has long-term agricultural traditions and we take seriously the need to preserve the environment. Some examples of our positive environmental enhancements are as follows:

GRAINS

We rotate crop-growing between four different crops, wheat, barley, sunflower and corn. Each crop has a different nutrient requirement and we apply nutrient balance calculations before the use of fertiliser, based on soil analysis. We are also expanding the use of Variable Rate Application of fertilisers across our land base, to improve areas that have a poor nutrient status, and reduce where it is unnecessary to apply high rates.

We are continually looking for new crops to grow, pulses being the ideal addition, but these prove difficult on our soil type. We are however looking to grow short season soya to improve soil fertility and have plant cover during the later part of the growing season. This, with the use of cover crops and the move towards no-till farming, and the adoption of conservation farming techniques (no ploughing), we aim to reduce carbon emissions, improve soil organic matter, reduce the effects of erosion, and create a sustainable cropping rotation.

We have invested heavily in our pig slurry storage and means of application, with an aim to significantly reduce the amount of purchased synthetic fertilisers, and replace with organic manures from our pig production facility, combining the natural advantages with an offset in carbon emissions created in the manufacture of artificial replacements. This is a long term commitment and work in progress to make this efficient and beneficial to the environment and our own cropping needs.

Additionally, for the environment, we leave the surrounding areas of the plots of land and some division strips in their most natural and wild state. These areas are not cultivated or treated in any way, no cutting of the bushes, no spraying with herbicides. This provides a natural habitat for wild birds, animals, insects and plants around the fields. In addition, we planted over 200 dka of wild flower mixes to improve wildlife habitats in 2020.

In line with this drive to be more mindful of our duty to conservation, the company has banned the use of rodenticides in fields. This has been done to avoid any detrimental effects they may have on the many differing birds of prey we have nesting and inhabiting the areas of natural vegetation and farmland under our control.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD

We have stopped ploughing between the rows of cherries, so now you can see grass, flowers and butterflies in the orchard, and as well we positively attract bees for pollination.

THE PIG FARM

We are incorporating a number of energy-efficient improvements in the pig farm, including complete change of lighting with LEDs, and transitioning from gas heating to electric heating which, when upgraded with solar energy sources in the future,  will help us to attain complete energy self-sufficiency.

We are also proud of the fact that, unlike many pig farms which spend money on use of antibiotics for better results,  we use them only if they are needed for health problems, and then only in the smallest quantities. We recognise that antibiotic usage is limited by law in UK and Western EU countries, for example, and we operate similar practice in order to reduce the possibility of long-term antibiotic resistance on the planet.

LOCAL COMMUNITY INITIATIVES

The GREEN OAK Initiative: aims to keep nature clean and pure by collecting garbage, executing clean-ups and encouraging responsible appreciation of the environment whether that be village streets or city streets or fields and woods – all with a view to not only cleaning the environment but also educating its people to appreciating life in cleaner environments and to promote citizen responsibility for the environment and nature.

The LOCAL CONSTRUCTION GARBAGE Initiative: Construction garbage typically ends up in fields and woods of the countryside, in part because there is often no infrastructure for its proper collection and disposal. Agrotime has set up an initiative in the village of Maluk Porovets whereby it provides garbage containers conveniently placed in the village which are emptied on a regular  basis and disposed of properly in the Razgrad landfill.

ETHICS

Ethics is also part of our DNA, not something we write as rules and post on the wall of the office and expect our employees to read.

To quote Ivan Krachunov Senior again, “Ask just anyone if we have ever been late with a pay cheque even by a day. Ask just anyone if there is a pig or even a leg of pork sold without VAT or whatever”.

We manage by example. We strive to behave properly to our people and we expect the same in return. We strive to be honest with our partners, with whom we have totally transparent relations, and we expect the same in return. It is not unusual for us to do deals for large quantities of grain, with major logistics issues, over the phone, and we honour our commitments as we expect our buyers so to do.. and they all do, because we set the standard from the top in ethical behaviour and that is fully appreciated throughout our organisation and by our partners.

Spring cleaning under the initiative “GREEN OAK”