In 2015, Transmara Sugar implemented its first regional office to facilitate the work of the Agricultural team with the local farming communities. We recently met with Pierre Redinger, Agriculture Manager of Transmara to share his views on the new structure and the team’s roles and responsibilities.
Pierre, could you please present us your department and how is it structured with the arrival of your new managers?
In 2016-2017, the Agricultural Department recruited three Regional Operations Managers and an ERP Administrator, namely John Richardson, Mathieu Sauzier, Ryder Lee and Gareth Jones. Each Regional Operations Manager being responsible for two regional offices. Regional Operations Managers, the ERP administrator and the Agronomist reports to the Agricultural Manager.
The Agronomist is responsible for the agronomic activities at TSCL such as variety trials, soil analysis, etc.
Each regional office is fully staffed with Assistant Regional Managers, Clerks, superintendents, supervisors, etc. with the aim of providing quality services to the sugar cane farmers.
Working as one organized and responsible unit we aim to help accelerate the development of new cane areas and secure Transmara’s cane supply in the future.
What are the objectives of the regional team and what services will they be offering to the planters of Transmara?
One hundred percent of milling cane is sourced from outgrowers with plots of land averaging 1.2 hectares (ha) per farmer. The primary objective of the Agriculture Department is the sustainable development of area under sugarcane cultivation to meet the factory capacity. The regional teams’ objectives will be more focused on supporting and assisting the outgrowers in order to maintain and convert additional suitable land for sugarcane production from approximately 8,500 ha to 20,000 ha over five years.
The regional offices role is to manage, supervise and implement services to the outgrowers of each region and share best agricultural management practices. The different services provided to the outgrowers includes soil analysis-based fertilizer recommendations & application services, seed cane supply, land preparation, weed control, harvesting and transporting of sugarcane to the factory.
The ultimate goal of the regional offices is for TSCL to become closer to the outgrowers and build a strong relationship between TSCL and the outgrowers based on mutual trust.
What new projects will the team be taking on at Transmara?
The intervention required at Transmara makes it a new project on its own, given the demands on both operational development and procedure implementations for each region. This project itself will consist of several steps to achieve success. The first step will be the decentralisation of all operations to the regional offices with full capability of supporting outgrowers in terms of service resources and data capturing.
A GIS-based mapping and services integration will be implemented at field and outgrowers’ level to update the outgrowers’ and crop information.
A development program is also being developed for TSCL field staff and outgrowers to build capacity and to develop the required skill within TSCL. This program includes setting up a permanent Training Centre of Excellence which unit will train staff and outgrowers on a modular basis to cover best management practices as well as basic business skills and money management. This is critical to ensure consistency across the region to support a sustainable future.
A hot water treatment plant is also being installed and will be operational soon for the establishment of certified seed nurseries.
What are the principal challenges/opportunities that the team will have to face at Transmara?
The Transmara region has a huge agricultural potential and one of the major opportunity is unlocking the agricultural potential that is inherent in the region. There is the potential to develop the region as well as the community who is ready and willing to learn the best agricultural practices. This will give us the opportunity to work alongside the outgrowers to build a strong working relationship and set a new benchmark in an outgrower based sugarcane supply.
Working at Transmara means working in a dynamic and challenging environment. A strong character and a balanced mindset is required to adjust to the environment. There is a need for consistency in the implementation of best practices and new standards while maintaining composure to earn the respect of the outgrowers community.
Working with a multi-cultural team may also prove to be a challenging task so a respectful, patient and understanding demeanor is required to provide guidance to the team, bring them together and avoid any conflicts.
The conversion of land use and sustaining area under sugarcane cultivation to meet the factory crushing capacity is a challenge.
Cane poaching whereby other millers are targeting TSCL sugarcane supply requires that TSCL develop a close relationship with the outgrowers to gain their trust and loyalty
How is the harvest season going so far? What is your forecast for this new season?
This year has been most challenging due to GIS Mapping audits reflecting loss of areas under sugarcane against forecast for various reasons including cane poaching activities and illegal jaggery operations in the region. Steps to mitigate the situation are continuous sugarcane development, provide quality service to the outgrowers and maintain good rapport with them.
In 2017 TSCL crushed 425,000 tons of sugarcane and developed an area of 4,500 hectares of sugarcane cultivation. The budget for 2018 is to crush 527,000 tons of sugarcane and develop another 4,500 hectares of sugar cane cultivation.