China Calling (November)
On behalf of all of us at Silva International—in China, the United States, and around the globe—we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.
Enjoy this edition of China Calling, with the latest updates from our work there to procure the highest quality raw materials in our manufacturing of Silva ingredients.
Workshop for our Raw Material Partners
We held our fifth workshop in November in which 48 people participated from 13 raw material partner facilities. Some of these partners had traveled five hours to get to the workshop. We discussed microbiological controls, contingency planning, pesticide management, allergens controls, traceability, and the new requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act
Silva-China QA Manager Yang Jian played a major role in the workshop (pictured at right). The session was very interactive and we got great feedback from the attendees. Many complimented our team on taking the initiative to bring together all partners in the region, so that everyone gets the same message at the same time.
Raw Material Facility Auditing Increases Confidence
Both Yang Jian and Xie Ming of our Silva-China team have now audited in excess of 200 factories between them. As they both visit facilities on a regular basis, they do a part audit every time they visit. With some visits being unannounced, this increases the confidence we have that we get a true picture of what is happening in this raw material portion of our supply chain.
In the image to the left, Yang Jian inspects the product while Xie Ming prepares for some supervised production.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Pesticide residues can be a real issue on certain crops, especially where product is being grown for the local market or for other global regions. Educating our partners on the use of alternative methods, therefore, is an integral part of our program. Using physical methods of pest control can help reduce, delay, and even eliminate the use of some plant protection chemicals, resulting in a better final product.
At left, we see Yang Jian installing a “pest predator house” next to a field of spring onions. Our raw material partner will evaluate its performance and will then install another eight units to give full coverage of the growing area.
Another aspect of pesticide management is the responsible disposal of used packaging. It is not unusual to see old plant protection chemical containers in the channels that are used for irrigation. Silva is working with some of our key partners to ensure that there is adequate provision for the disposal of containers, followed by their destruction, so they cannot be used for any other purposes.
Transportation Growth Makes Work More Efficient
The commuting changes that have occurred in China over the last 10 years are quite remarkable. We now find that we rarely need to endure the eight-hour drives that were the standard mode of transportation in years past. More airports in the areas that are close to our growing areas have certainly helped.
On the last trip of the year, our Quality Director Roger Clarke (pictured left) used the new high-speed train. In the past, this trip would have required a full day’s journey. Now, with the train’s help, the entire trip only requires 3.5 hours—two hours by train and then a 90-minute drive.
China Daily reported that disposable income in urban houses has risen by 7.2% in the last year. It also reported that migrant workers saw a 9.9% increase in their household disposable income. Over the same period, we have seen a dramatic increase in China import figures for crude oil. In 2012, 271 million tons of crude oil were imported, compared with 68 million tons 10 years ago. China has been on a tremendous growth curve over the last few years and, as always, we are tracking the impact this will have on the rural farming communities
First Day of Winter Celebration
Many of you know that the Chinese calendar is different from our own. Several Silva team members were in Inner Mongolia earlier this month, working with a group of farmers on a number of agricultural activities. It was November 3, but for the farmers it was October 1, which is the first day of winter. Every year, to celebrate this day, the families come together for a lamb feast and—as is always the case in this type of environment—to drink the local rice wine.
The lamb was excellent and the rice “wine” was 68% alcohol, so not much work got done after lunch. Still, we had a good day and built a nice relationship with this farming group.
- Ni Hao from the Silva-China team!