It’s been an exciting week, running training sessions with our staff team. These are young, bright Malawians, many of them graduates from the national agriculture university. In Malawi Fruits/MFT we now have 28 employees – me in Scotland and 27 Malawians! It is a tremendous privilege to sustain high quality jobs for this team , and to be able to see them grow and develop.
Charles and I led sessions on business organisation; complexity & change; opportunity cost; dealing with conflicts of interest; ethics in farming; and understanding farmer motivations. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and engagement of the team and very encouraged for the future.
Yesterday was even more encouraging: we asked our teams to each present their vision and ideas for their departments (we have Farming; Irrigation; Maintenance; and Sales). The quality of the presentations was excellent and the content even more so. We have been building a relationship with the agricultural university where we share our learning about greenhouse farming in Malawi and, in return, they recommend us to their brightest and best graduates. Their presentations showed that this arrangement is certainly working for us!
Great ideas were presented and in each case they were backed up with deep knowledge. Our team now has graduates in Irrigation Engineering; Food Science; Livestock Management; and Horticulture. So when they started sharing ideas about propagating high quality banana suckers, raising day-old chicks for sale, and grafting tomato seedlings to aubergine rootstock (to reduce plant diseases), we had the strong conviction that they could actually pull it off.
In many ways it feels that the best is still to come from this team and, to maximise the potential, we interviewed this week for a new position of Quality Improvement Manager. We were delighted to appoint a young woman with strong commercial management experience and she will be starting in a couple of weeks. It’s a big job but the remit is straightforward – help MFT go from good to great.