“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].
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:
We rotate crop-growing between five different plants, being wheat, barley, sunflower, corn and peas. Each crop has a different nutrient requirement such that nutrient drainage can be reduced, and we use peas to enhance the nitrogen content of the soil. However, we still need to fertilise, and as far as possible we are now using pig manure (from the pig slurry lagoons in which we have invested heavily over the years) instead of artificial fertilisers, which saves both money and CO2 (production and transportation of artificial fertilisers being energy-intensive).
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.
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. No herbicides are used in the orchard.
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 Netherlands, for example, and we operate similar practice in order to reduce the possibility of long-term antibiotic resistance in our pig houses, as well as to reduce the antibiotic residues in the meat for the consumer.
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.