As a producer of food we get asked “Are you ISO-compliant, GAP-compliant, HACCP-compliant, BRC-compliant?” etc, etc. For me, all these questions seem a long way from the primary objective of producing delicious salmon to eat! But this is modern life, I suppose. Everybody wants someone to put a rubber stamp on everything, telling them that the product is OK.
Recently we have been asked for our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) statement. We recognised this acronym through our involvement with sea farming in Southern Africa. There, issues of race, gender, personal development, culture and health are at the very top of the political agenda. Every South African company knows where its CSR policy should be aimed. Again this is all part of the supply chain wanting to know that it is dealing with “decent” people. Most people in business (at least we do at Loch Duart) want to treat their employees well, create a great product and not affect the environment – but now trust has gone.
Our partners in Africa are HIK in Hermanus, south of Cape Town. Hermanus is a beautiful seaside town on the part of the coast to which the Right Whales migrate. HIK farms abalone; delicious shellfish in a beautiful shell with mother-of-pearl colouring. When I first saw it, I was awestruck with admiration for the company’s CSR policy. Believing in fostering health and loyalty among their 100 staff, many from the local township, HIK has set up dedicated education and medical centres with training and medical officers at the disposal of their people, not just their staff. HIK also supports play centres to ensure adequate care for children with working mothers. The staff from the township not only get wages and security of employment – in addition they get further education and life skills training, and they and their families get better medical care than they could otherwise hope for. So, hiding behind the bland acronym “CSR” is a truly uplifting social policy.
HIK is our partner in the venture to grow Dusky Kob in Mozambique. Aquapemba, as the company is called, will need to try to have the same sort of policy as the issues faced in Mozambique mirror those in Hermanus to some extent. As for Scotland, fortunately we have good NHS medical care and an extremely good education system in remote parts of Scotland where Loch Duart farms its salmon – so we will have to develop in a different way. Wherever people are and work there will be a need to help people achieve their true potential. This must be the goal of our CSR policy and though the issues are different, the principle behind it remains the same. People matter!