More than 3 million strings were deployed to support crop 2019. If they were laid end-to-end they would stretch more than 20,285km, which is roughly half the Earth’s circumference. This sheer quantity means sourcing sustainable strings is becoming more and more important, particularly as our Victorian expansion progresses and the new plantings begin to mature.
We choose to use coir strings. Coir is often thought of as a low-value by-product of coconut production. In most cases, the husks are left on the field, but a small portion are used to produce brushes, brooms, mats, mattresses and string. It is well suited to our farming operations because it has one of the highest concentrations of lignin, making it stronger and better able to withstand all kinds of weather than most natural fibres. It is also 100% biodegradable, which means the strings can be mulched alongside the spent bines and returned to our paddocks where they help to improve soil fertility, retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
Despite its comparatively low trade value, coir provides significant economic support to populations in regional areas of India and Sri Lanka where women are particularly dependent on its production for their livelihood. Our Horticulture and Sustainability Manager Oliver Ward recently visited these areas to tour our string suppliers’ facilities and ensure they are able to ethically and sustainably meet our increasing production requirements.
The majority of our strings come from Hayley Fibre in Sri Lanka, who are ISO 9001:2015 compliant and a UN Global Compact participant. The remainder of our strings come from Koralage Fibre Exporters in Sri Lanka and Ceres Fibre in India, both of whom are ethical family businesses with a high standard of manufacturing practices. All three suppliers demonstrated a high degree of professionalism as well as good governance, ethics and manufacturing practices. They also have the prospects and ambition to grow sustainably alongside us, which allows us to move toward a more sustainable future with confidence.
To further demonstrate our commitment to a more sustainable future, we have agreed to join the UN Global Compact alongside the other regional representatives of BarthHaas. This is a global initiative that offers businesses a framework to help them incorporate sustainability into their operations, as well as manage and measure their performance against universal management principles linked to the environment, human rights and anti-corruption. Together, we are taking a shared responsibility for a better world by setting meaningful targets and implementing projects across the group’s global network.