Responsible companies are rightly ever more concerned with the impacts of their activities on the environment and the social conditions of their employees and those down the supply chain.
At Melcourt, knowing where our raw materials come from is a really important factor for many reasons – we of course need to know that the quality is consistent, that the sawmills and other sources they we buy from are run sustainably but also that their employees are well-looked after. Compliance to an audited set of social conditions is a typical requirement for many of our customers nowadays and this is captured during our regular audits by the Responsible Sourcing of Growing Media Scheme – see https://www.responsiblesourcing.org.uk/.
Our Senior Technical Sales Manager Neil Gray recently went to southern India to inspect our coir suppliers. Coir, a by-product of the coconut industry, is a minor ingredient in many of our composts but it is nevertheless paramount that our supplies are from well-run, ethically sound organizations.
Here are some of Neil’s pictures:
It takes about 7 to 8 months from flowering for the coconut fruit to be fully formed and ready for harvest. In some coconut groves it is not unusual to see banana trees planted in between the coconut trees to give a second income to the farmers.
The long fibres that make up the coconut husk are mechanically extracted and sold to factories which process this into bedding, rope, door mats etc.
After the fibres have been removed the remaining pith – coir – is set aside for washing and drying. Water for washing is preserved from the monsoon rains so there is no impact on domestic supplies.
Following successful quality assurance testing the coir is compressed into 5kg blocks ready for shipping.
The drying and compressing ensures that for every 70 cubic metre container, we can reconstitute the coir to around 300m3. This is a very important part of the efficiency of the supply chain.
After its five week journey to our factory in Gloucestershire the consignment undergoes rewetting and further quality checks before it is released for use in SylvaGrow® and our professional range Sylvamix®.
Neil was able to enjoy various interesting cultural experiences during his trip!