Within the framework of the USAID-Farmer-to-Farmer Program a training course was provided to SEKEM co-workers, who are working in one of the food processing companies. International trainers and an ambitious Egyptian team were imparting the participants the important topic of food safety.
At the end of January snowballs where fluttering in SEKEM – During the food safety training given by three American experts the serious topic was approached through fun and games. Participants wrote their questions on a white paper, crumpled it and threw it through the room. The ones who caught the “snowball” had to answer the questions. “The participants are full of life and really willing to learn. It’s wonderful to see how they are smiling all the time – that’s the best condition to learn”, says Deneen Rief, one of the Trainers. The three-day workshop was about a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of hazards, which might happen along the food chain, the so-called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Concept (HACCP). 14 SEKEM employees and 13 participants from other companies all over Egypt attended the training in SEKEM.
Collaboration and International Development
The Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F) of the USAID is mainly working for promoting economic growth through specialized experts from the agriculture and agribusiness section, who can offer expertise to their counterparts in different countries. Since 1987, this program has been implemented in more than 130 developing countries with the aim to develop skillful employees in different economical sections.
“The most impressive point is that the experts of F2F are working as volunteers”, says Hossam Habeeb, Field Program Manager at Land O’Lakes Egypt, partner organization of F2F. Land O’Lakes Egypt has been the link between SEKEM and the USAID Program. Via certifying the participant employees, they can pass on their knowledge to their colleagues and HACCP can be efficiently applied in SEKEMs food factories.
“Better safe than sorry”
In the same time the volunteering trainers benefit from the program as they gain experiences in foreign countries by interacting with people from different cultures. “It is our first time in Egypt. We are amazed by the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, but the SEKEM Farm is as impressive as well”, says F2F-instructor, Evie Severyn. On SEKEM Farm the ambitious trainers applied the certification exam to the participants and also got a look into the SEKEM factories, the attendee’s daily work environment.
Food safety can be considered as a never ending process of controlling endless hazards. In fact, there are always unexpected risks within the safety chain. Thus, regular safety trainings should be offered to every person that is involved to the food chain. Hence, employees from the two food processing companies of SEKEM attended the workshop: ISIS Organic and Lotus. “To maintain the trustability that our ISIS products enjoy on the market, recent procedures should be applied regularly within the process of manufacturing”, says Ahmed Shalaby, Quality Control Specialist at ISIS Organic Water Plant. “The HACCP certification will not only support my career, but also boost the quality of SEKEMs products. Therefore, I am willing to share any new information with my colleagues in the ISIS Water Plant.” The ambitious ISIS co-worker attended the workshop together with his manager. Both of them were excellent in solving the theoretical tasks provided by the instructors.
“Cooperation with SEKEM is a huge step for achieving international recognition…”, Land O’Lakes Egypt, Country Director
Along the three days, each of the volunteering instructors offered the corresponding trainees detailed sessions about the aspects of HACCP and how they can be applied efficiently in the Quality Control and the Quality Assurance Departments. “It is very impressive how SEKEM implements a precise and continuous development strategy for its employees”, says Hamdy Attia, Country Director at Land O’Lakes Egypt. “We believe that international recognition cannot be achieved individually, but through cooperation with huge organizations like SEKEM.”
With fun and laughter, participants and trainers were able to learn about how food safety can be improved by the HACCP concept. The results of the final exam will be announced after three weeks.