Bahrain: Peninsula Farms names Grahame Dunling as new Chief Operating Officer

Grahame is a third generation grower of the Dunling Family and before joining Peninsula Farms was a self-employed consultant working from his own company called Local salads and in this role he redesigned growing systems to make them suit the smaller grower. It was under this role that he was called to look at Peninsula Farms to give advice on Crop quality, He was asked to join the company on the second day of his visit as “Horticultural Business Manager” By adapting this role he has redesigned the way the cooling system works in the greenhouses which enable him to grow in the desert heat of some 50c during the daytime and 35c night time.

Sheik Rashid and Grahame Dunling

In June just six months from joining the company Grahame took the position of Chief Operating Officer with the brief to run the business as his own, and to turn Peninsula Farms into a position where it was supplying supermarkets with quality and consistent produce. He soon realised after joining that there was no Plan or indeed no marketing strategy in place, sales was done on a cut it, pack it, and try and sell it policy. There was no crop scheduling and no pre selling and no point of sale material to promote the company as the only Horticultural Company in Bahrain to grow crops in the Desert and also year round. He promoted the desert theme as by growing in the desert he is assured of no other chemicals, unlike some other growers in Bahrain that are in the more traditional areas. Indeed the neighbours are the Bahraini Air Force on one side and the Army on the other side. They are the only company to adapt a “Dutch” style of quality assurance and grow for quality rather than quantity. To further this point they have just been awarded an ISO quality assurance for Production, Processing, Storage and Distribution.

When he started they had an A-frame design growing structure for the lettuce, this has now been replaced by a more commercially viable flatbed design for growing quality produce, the A-frame grew quantity but not every head was the same quality and the variations were far too high which resulted in too much of a percentage loss of sales, and also increased the cost of goods sold due to wastage.
Grahame has turned around the company’s fortune and also introduced new product lines making valuable use of the climate in the desert region. All unsold produce is dried in a new facility that has been built to make use of the sun in Bahrain, products like sun dried tomatoes, peppers and also chilli powder are now being sold to the multiples of Bahrain all by products from Peninsula farms daily output.

Sheik Rashid is actively involved in the marketing of the produce

Peninsula has introduced a low pesticide usage on all vine crops and they use Bumble Bees to pollinate the flowers and pheromone traps to catch the aphids as well as yellow sticky traps for pest identification. To implement this he also trained the staff to be more aware of insects and greenhouse cleanliness, he has also introduced the staff to working as a team and has one team in each greenhouse. By doing this he says they monitor themselves and motivate each other and a bonus scheme is to be introduced were every month if standards are met that greenhouse will get a bonus to be split between the staff in that greenhouse. We run the 40,000m2 with one Nursery Manager, One Nursery foreman and then staff in each greenhouse with one delegated team leader.

This month they are installing a new salad washing line where all products will be washed and air dried before been packed, labelled and delivered to the local supermarkets, just another step ahead of all the local competition. Everyone in Bahrain sees the Dutch produce as the best produce so we aim to have produce that is grown to Dutch standards and Dutch quality but grown locally by a Bahraini company for the Kingdom of Bahrain. After all if we meet the standards then our produce is fresher, tastier, and from a retailer’s point of view has a longer shelf life than the Dutch so it offers far better value for money.
Peninsula Farms has also introduced salad packs which consist of three baby heads of lettuce in a punnet which as well as been pesticide free, which is a big consideration here as well as other countries it also increases shelf life.

Sheik Rashid has taken to this way of growing and he himself can now trim tomatoes and harvest lettuce, He is also actively involved in the marketing of the produce such is the involvement and the commitment to providing Quality and consistent produce.

For more information
Peninsula Farms W.L.L.
Grahame Dunling
Chief Operating Officer
T : +973 39994538

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