Corporate Social Responsibility
Being successful in business imposes an obligation as well. There was a time when Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) meant
At BERNAS, CSR is an essential part of our business strategy, premised on growth with equity. While we strive to achieve our
At the end of the day, how a company relates to its people will determine its future success. We believe that if we treat our people with respect, they will return the favour to the Company in terms of better productivity. In cultivating a relationship with our employees, we want our people to feel a sense of family aligned with the Company’s vision and corporate goals.
Ascending the Learning Curve
Many corporations claim that their staff is the most important asset, but at BERNAS, we demonstrate this through our actions and deeds. We believe that a qualified and contented workforce is vital to our becoming a high-performance organisation. As we aspire towards a culture of excellence, learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge are an essential part of working at BERNAS and stems from our conviction that every individual has talents and potential that can be nurtured.
Each year, we invest a significant sum of money in a comprehensive range of training and manpower development programmes catering to all levels of staff. In 2011, on average, each executive employee benefited from 52.2 hours of training, while non-executive employees received 15 hours. As can be expected in a Company with a diverse range of activities, our training programmes are broad-based ranging from induction programmes, courses to enhance functional technical skills and rice management workshops for those at entry and mid-level positions to change management and leadership programmes for those at the managerial level.
A Conducive Work Environment
Kelab BERNAS Malaysia (KBM), which is the Group’s sports and recreation club, has its affiliates in every region where we operate. Programmes organised by KBM in 2011 included futsal matches, inter-club bowling and badminton tournaments, subsidised trips to China and Cambodia and a Treasure Hunt, which saw the participation of BERNAS employees nationwide. Through events like these, staff have the opportunity to socialise with colleagues from other locations at the end of formal business.
BERNAS’ headquarters at Menara HLA in Kuala Lumpur houses a fully-equipped gymnasium alongside a recreation area for pool and board games and a spacious music room for staff to chill out and recover from work demands. By facilitating employee social interaction within the enlarged Tradewinds group presently housed under roof, a sense of camaraderie is forged. Other facilities provided include a surau that can accommodate up to 200 jemaahs for prayers, talks or religious classes at any one time as well as three well-equipped training rooms.
We also empower employees to gauge their performance and competency goals. Performance reviews are conducted twice annually and since 2009, employees have been able to review and manage their annual objectives and performance online before the year-end appraisal.
Occupational Safety and Health
The health and safety of our employees and those we come into contact with remains a paramount concern. We are committed to creating a safe and healthy work environment where people can develop, improve and excel. During the year, our Employee Occupational Safety and Healthy Division continued with a safety campaign to raise awareness on occupational safety and health (OSH) risks and their prevention throughout the Group’s KBBs. The campaign has effectively reduced the number of workplace accidents by 71%, with only two cases reported in 2011 compared to seven cases the previous year. BERNAS is now working towards achieving a Zero Accident target by establishing a rigorous set of operational controls to manage risks more effectively.
Our primary CSR objective in respect of the marketplace is to ensure that its business is conducted in all respects to the highest standards of openness and accountability. Throughout the years, BERNAS has taken steps in strengthening corporate governance standards to protect its stakeholders and to secure market confidence. As part of our commitment to prudent risk management, the Management has ensured the implementation of risk management and internal controls are within a robust risk management framework.
In discharging its responsibilities to the marketplace, BERNAS wears two hats. As a public listed company, we have met the expectations of our shareholders who have enjoyed good returns on their investments. On the other hand, having taken over the torch as the nation’s de facto food-grain management agency, we have discharged this responsibility by ensuring the security of rice supplies at all times.
During the year under review, BERNAS has taken on the responsibility of implementing two of the 16 Entry Point Projects (EPP) identified under the National Key Economic Areas for the Agriculture Sector. With its three-fold objectives of increasing paddy production, boosting the income of farmers and achieving national food security, EPP 10 was launched in October 2011. Under EPP 10, BERNAS will collaborate with the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) to transform smallscale paddy farming activities into larger scale operations using the sustainable practices, intensification of irrigation facilities and high yield MR219 and MR229 varieties to move farmers up the value chain. In EPP 11, BERNAS will be the anchor company to develop 5,100 hectares of paddy farms in Batang Lupar, Sri Aman, Sarawak. A pilot study to ascertain the viability and approach to be taken in implementing this project is underway.
Another contribution to marketplace development is through the R&D programmes of the recently upgraded BERNAS-UPM Laboratory. The primary focus of the laboratory is the development of new and improved rice varieties, improving efficiency levels throughout the supply chain and commercialisation of research products to penetrate new markets.
BERNAS also has a qualified and experienced team of inspectors to conduct audits on all rice supplies to ensure they meet stringent quality requirements stipulated in the Rice (Grade and Price Control) (Amendment) Order 2008. Our laboratory also conducts analysis on rice samples to ensure they meet the standards of ISO 13690 and ISO 7301.
In January 2012, BERNAS launched a television commercial and print advertisement campaign to coincide with the Chinese New Year celebrations. A first for BERNAS, the campaign aimed at highlighting the importance of rice in Malaysian society, carrying a message that was both relevant and inspiring.
Bowls for Humanity Campaign
From its early days, BERNAS has always supported the needy, underprivileged, marginalised and other worthy causes such as contributions for the upgrading of orphanages, mosques and public facilities. Not all our contributions are made in cash. In 2011, we also donated food and rice to various local communities, non-government organisations, single-mother associations and other charitable organisations
During the year in review, BERNAS has taken its CSR efforts in reaching out to the community a step further. One of the most important CSR initiatives that BERNAS has embarked on was its ‘Bowls for Humanity’ campaign launched by the Deputy Prime Minister, YAB Tan Sri Dato’ Hj. Muhyiddin bin Hj. Mohd Yassin, on 28 July 2011.
The concept behind the campaign, which will run for three to four years, is simple but effective. For every 10 kg pack of rice purchased at any retail outlet, 25 grammes in value will go towards orphanages in Malaysia. In November 2011, the first disbursement of RM150,000 or the equivalent of 60,000 kg of rice was shared out among 27 orphanages in Kedah, Perlis and Penang. Another RM750,000 was collected between November 2011 and January 2012 and this has been channeled to 107 orphanages throughout the country. BERNAS has set a target of donating the equivalent of 1,200 MT of rice for the year 2012.
While the Bowls for Humanity campaign may not be BERNAS’ largest CSR effort, it is indeed the most important when it comes to engaging the public. Since its launch, the campaign has touched Malaysians at every level of society and the response has been very positive.
Program Rakan Ladang
More than 55% of local paddy come from the granary areas in Kedah and Perlis, where farmers are confronted with many challenges, which include limited funding and infrastructure, poverty and old age. Through coordinated efforts, BERNAS is using the Program Rakan Ladang (PRL) as a platform to promote greater efficiency in the supply chain and to enhance productivity and crop quality. Farmers are also introduced to the latest technology and are given financing assistance of up to 100% without interest to cover planting costs. To date, some 28,548 farmers have benefited from the PRL programme.
Education has always been one of the main pillars of our CSR programmes. It is through education that we sow the seeds for a brighter future, nurturing a new generation of Malaysians who may well turn out to be tomorrow’s leaders or captains and kings of industry.
For this reason, we continued to lend our support for the development of the Albukhary International University (AIU) in Alor Star, Kedah. The AIU was set up as a charitable university catering for the poor and under-privileged who wish to pursue a tertiary education. Unlike other universities, the AIU does not target the academic high achievers. Instead, priority is given to those who come from poor, disadvantaged or marginalised backgrounds. All students are required to undertake planned welfare and community service activities throughout their period of study. The AIU opened its doors to its first intake of students in January 2011.
Last year, BERNAS also organised a workshop to prepare students sitting for the UPSR, PMR and SPM examinations. The workshop benefited a total of 800 students, comprising children of BERNAS’ employees, orphans from the Rumah Anak-anak Yatim Yayasan Albukhary as well as children of farmers participating in PRL programme.
The world we live in is threatened by a variety of environmental problems. From global warming, ozone depletion, air and water pollution to species extinction, we are all affected in one way or another. The global environment, with its finite resources, has to be a common concern of all and people all over the world are coming together to create a positive future for the planet. Fortunately, for every environmental problem there are causes, and more importantly, a solution. BERNAS recognises its corporate responsibilities towards the preservation of the environment and taps deep into our desire to set things right.
In our efforts to create a better world, we believe that the pursuit of best environmental practices and management makes sound business sense. We look upon environmental sustainability as a prerequisite for long-term development and growth. Agriculture, like many other sectors, has ecological and environment footprints, but the question is how big the foot-print can be and what is accepted.
At this point, we cannot claim to have reached our goal of environmental stewardship but we have been working towards that objective by taking the following measures:
BERNAS is committed to strengthening its green credentials. Each year, significant capital expenditure is invested in upgrading our mill infrastructure and improving production processes. Through these and other measures, we are working towards a greener and healthier environment for the benefit of all stakeholders.