Efficiency is the ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, efforts, money and time. This valuable skill is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses as it can be cost-effective and allow the business to scale sustainably and productively.
In Kenya, MEDA’s M-SAWA project is supporting economic growth by partnering with small and medium-sized enterprises in the agriculture sector.
MEDA partner Mace Foods sources vegetables, herbs and spices from farmers to dehydrate and export to local and international markets. Although Mace Foods produces many products, their most popular export is a variety of chili called the African Birds Eye Chili (ABE).
Mace Foods sources their chilis from surrounding communities in an attempt to boost local economies and reduce costs.
In 2017, MEDA partnered with Mace Foods to increase their production efficiencies and mobilize farmers as suppliers from three new counties and train them on good agricultural practices (GAP). As such, Mace Foods recruited and trained over 2,400 farmers from Bungoma, Busia and Turkana counties, exceeding their project target of 1,800 farmers. Mace Foods’ trainings to farmers included knowledge and skills on land preparation and management, nutrient application, pest and disease control, harvest and post-harvest management to chilli farmers. This supplier expansion has provided Mace Foods with a ready supply of quality ABE Chilies while having contributed to providing steady income and market for the 2,400 farmer suppliers
Through the MEDA partnership, Mace Foods also wanted to improve their factory operations by undergoing a good manufacturing practice (GMP) audit. Through the audit, they realized that there were some inefficiencies leading to monetary losses. Margaret Komen, Mace Foods CEO, realized that they needed to address the problems and correct them.
One of the processes that improved was the wait time between when a Mace Foods client ordered their chilies/vegetables and when they arrived. This was due to Mace Foods making changes to staff work timeframes. Through the audit’s recommendation Mace was also able to reduce waste at different levels of production by ensuring that all the chilli waste was turned into compost. The compost, which is organic and biodegradable, is then sold back to the chilli farmers. This improves the soil quality of the farms, thus increasing chilli production. Mace Foods is now happy to report that by improving their production and manufacturing processes, the company has seen a 92% reduction in processing inefficiencies.
Trainings on good agricultural practices coupled with the organic fertilizer has helped chilli farmers supported by the partnership to consistently increase production and conserve the environment. For Mace, the changes introduced based on the audit have increased revenue and stabilized the supply of chillies.
“Achieving 92% reduction in production inefficiencies by use of the ‘push and pull’ strategy is an eye opener,” said Margaret Komen, CEO of Mace Foods Limited.
Mace Foods are determined to continue making their processes more organized and efficient. Margaret noticed that even small changes can have a big impact.
-- Janet Mumassabba