Our Corporate Communications staff spend time getting to know Sumitomo Corporation's different business sites around the world, reporting on how the people at those sites work. We will keep you up to date with the world of Sumitomo Corporation, which extends to every corner of the globe.
Corporate Communications Department
Since joining the company in 2009, Rumi has been dealing with the mass media and presenting interesting information as a person with responsibility for reporting about the General Products & Real Estate Business Unit and about personnel affairs. Her hobby is traveling and spending time with animals; she has visited thirty countries across the world and has spent over a hundred hours on a horse. Her future dream is to walk a lion cub in Kruger National Park in South Africa, thereby doing both of her favorite things at the same time.
In the Australian state of New South Wales, which located in the eastern part of the country, Sumitomo Corporation has one of its bases with which it conduct grain business across the country. We visited the state in November, when the local harvest season for wheat had began, to talk with local people who were producing or handling grain to be supplied to us and to understand their commitment to their business.
This combine harvester has wheels that are as tall as the standing height of a person.
First we visited Wagga Wagga, a town with a population of some 60,000 located about 470 km from Sydney. Australian Bulk Alliance (ABA), a grain storage company that became an affiliate company of Sumitomo Corporation, has a silo base about one and a half hours from Wagga Wagga by car. We were heading to the silo passing through a vast grain producing area. On the way to the silo, after being surprised to see kangaroos standing in wheat fields, we happened to meet a farmer who had just harvested his crop of wheat to be delivered to the silo.
The color of the wheat produced in Australia differs by producing area. In eastern Australia, yellowish wheat used to make bread is harvested.
The farmer was growing wheat on moderate-sized farmland in Australia, extending about 2000 to 2200 acres, in other words 800 to 900 hectares, and in the harvesting season he said he was cooperating with two other farmers to harvest the crops and deliver them to the silo. In Australia, where some farmers have farmland more extensive than the total area of the 23 special cities which make up central Tokyo, the farmland owned by this farmer we met might not be considered very big. Nonetheless, remembering that the size of the forest where Pooh Bear lived was 100 acres, I was excited at the size of the farmland. It of course much takes time and labor to grow wheat on such a large area of land, but the farmer said, “I would spare no pains to grow and harvest high-quality wheat. The growth rate of wheat varies by location, and I do what I should do for the wheat based on its growth level. I harvest the crop only after the entire field changes color to shining gold.” He talked passionately to us, even though we had only met him by chance, and what he said demonstrated his pride as a farmer. He said he was leaving his farm to deliver the just harvested wheat to the silo by truck, and we also left his farm.
ABA has about 30 employees. In the busy harvesting season, they handle the trucks that arrive one after another with the help of students working as part-timers. (The person on the far left is Mr. Ryosuke Yanagi of Sumitomo Australia.)
At The Rock, which is one of the 13 silo bases managed by ABA in the inland area, grain delivered by truck is first brought into the inspection space where the composition and quality of the grain is analyzed for grading. Then the grain is measured and delivered to the specified silos and the management responsibility for the grain is transferred to ABA. The grain is stored in tank-type or flat-type silos and also piled outdoors. I was surprised to hear that grain could be kept in good condition for at least three years even if stored outdoors, provided that it is appropriately covered with vinyl sheet. While we were being briefed by ABA staff, the truck of the farmer, whose grain had now been graded at the inspection area, passed us by. Was his wheat classified as a high grade?
I strongly felt ABA’s commitment to quality at the export terminal located at the Port of Melbourne. Here crops are very carefully managed for export. Samples are taken from the grain to be shipped. The sample grain is spread on a conveyor belt to be inspected visually by the staff in charge. Some insects that are often mixed up in grain are smaller than one millimeter but experienced inspectors can discern these small insects from rapeseeds, which would be very difficult for nonprofessionals. If one single insect is detected, the entire silo in which the sample was stored will be fumigated. The storage capacity of a single large silo is at least one tonne and the fumigation treatment requires a considerable volume of gas and length of time. Thanks to these strict management measures taken both in the inland and port areas, people in Japan can enjoy eating safe and delicious bread and udon noodles made using wheat imported from Australia.
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