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“As post-harvest, we are the gatekeepers of the company"

This week, Marginpar tells the story of two of their Post-Harvest Managers, who happened to be in the Netherlands for a work visit. They have both been with Marginpar for many years; they started out as value adders in the field and went through all the ranks in post-harvest to become the managers that they are today. Priscilla: “We are true examples of Marginpar’s motto ‘We grow people, our people grow unique flowers’. We have really grown under Marginpar’s wings.” Jemimah is situated at Kudenga Farm and Priscilla manages the post-harvest process at Bondet Farm, which are both situated in Kenya. Their responsibility lies in the entire process from right after harvesting up until boxing and shipping the flowers.

Priscilla: “Quality is key to maintaining our customers. If we don’t have good quality, our competitors will get ahead of us and we lose the market.” Jemimah adds: “Quality doesn’t start at post-harvest. When everything before harvest is done right, from breeding to growing the flowers, we have fewer challenges at post-harvest. We have three quality checkpoints; the first one is right after harvest, the second during grading, and the third right before the flowers are boxed. If at any point an issue occurs, the stem is taken out and the problem is communicated back to production.” Priscilla adds: “We don’t wait with this feedback, we don’t want this issue to keep occurring so we take it back immediately.”

Sometimes, an issue might be a bit more persistent. In that case, the post-harvest managers always have backup. Priscilla: “We are one, and we have one aim. Problems are never personal, and whenever a challenge arises, we face them together with our team on our farm, but also together with other post-harvest managers, especially with those who grow the same crops. On top of that, we also get a lot of support from our Dutch QA colleagues Bram, Werner, and Gosia.” Jemimah: “A good example is the challenge we found in Gypsophila. After harvest, Gypsophila needs a rather specific treatment in order to bloom. We tackled this challenge together with all Gyps growers, as a team. Now it does very well and we get great returns; I am so proud of this.”

Both Jemimah and Priscilla are happy to work with the Hamuka culture. Jemimah: “We experience so much trust. When you have that space when working, with no one looking over your shoulder all the time, you are able to come up with more ideas. We discover a lot because of the room we get.” Priscilla: “Getting the opportunity to visit the Netherlands has also been great. We got to see how our flowers arrive in the Netherlands, which can be totally different from how we sent them off in Kenya. When the flowers come out of the box, you can tell they are not happy, but after getting recut and put on water, you see the life coming back to them. That is such an amazing sight! We also got to see our flowers being auctioned. We have learned so much about what we have to improve, and it was great meeting our Dutch colleagues."

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