Total Quality Management to Boost Floricultural Exports of Egypt: an integrated techno-managerial approach for the chain from

farm to consumer
N.P.G. Botden (MSc.) and A.M.L Terhürne (MSc.) HortiSolutions BV, Marijkeweg 22, 6709 PG Wageningen, The Netherlands Phone: +31 317 483036, Fax: +31 84 2241219 E-mail: (Corresponding author), Website:

Country: Egypt Project: USAID / Chemonics Inc. contract No. 263-C-00-04-00010-00. / Agricultural Exports
& Rural Incomes program. Date of submission: 20 January 2006 Keywords: Egypt, EgyptFlor, Total quality management, (summer) cut flowers, production, post-harvest, cool chain, Dutch flower auctions.

Regional Consultation on Linking Producers to Markets topic of interest:
• • Diversification into Higher-Value Products and Markets Fresh horticultural crops, especially for export Organizing to Supply High-Value Domestic and International Markets Improving supply chain management, including traceability Establishing quality assurance standards and certification systems for key export markets Organizing, training, and linking small-scale farmers to high-value markets

Global horticulture is a very dynamic sector. Social opinions are changing forcing floricultural production companies to comply to final customer (consumer) demands. This in order to be able to compete on global markets against other suppliers of the same product. Producers have to convert from a supply driven context towards a market driven orientation. When the distance to the customers is large, and margins are small, there is an increasing interest in optimizing product and chain performance to decrease or avoid financial losses. This paper explains the history and current situation of the Egyptian floricultural sector and its motivation to co-operate on international markets to survive as the floricultural sector of Egypt. In their wish to professionalize and become internationally recognized as a quality flower supplier, a flower grower association named EgyptFlor started implementation of Total Quality Management. This paper explains step by step how this is currently implemented on farm and chain level. Final result is an internet based Quality Performance monitoring system for management optimization and benchmarking possibilities.

This resulted over the years in an auction system where still the Dutch flower auctions are facilitating a floricultural marketplace where world supply and world demand is meeting each other. . The Dutch flower auctions have a co-operative configuration. Also flower consumption can be irregular and is for example influenced by actual weather. More over. Based on this. The distance between production. the Dutch flower auctions with their famous auction clocks succeeded in making complex information about supply and demand more transparent. Also in the cut flower business. a dynamic environment The horticultural world is a very dynamic and fast changing environment. flower production can be irregular and difficult to forecast. vase life and convenience are becoming more important. this will result in a certain market price which the grower can get based on total market supply and total market demand for his or her product. For consumers exclusivity and good experience with a product are still the main factors when buying flowers. When this irregular production. tracking and tracing and certification are becoming more popular. An overview of the general trends is shown in table 1. market place and final consumer is increasing: southern areas are producing for northern markets. where in principle all producers can offer their supply and all buyers can show their interest to buy. Generally spoken. supply chains (logistics) to transport perishables from producers to consumers are most of the time not constant in performance. consumption and supply chain performance are combined. relations etc. Since flowers are products of mother nature. collectivity and transparency of the chain is more important and this leads to more close cooperation between companies. where world floral price formation is daily realized and from their on influencing floral trade all over the world. for example by delivery at the right moment with extra services.Global floricultural production and trade. track record. cost reduction activities and horizontal and vertical chain integration can be observed each day. and adding value to products will be more important in near future. diversity and availability. product quality. Environmental friendly production. seasonal patterns and the presence of personal or religious celebration days. Also product responsibility is increasing. And buyers can choose most of the time from a set of growers all offering the same product and they choose the quality-pricecombination which is most favourable for them. 2002). So growers in African countries compete with each other to become the preferred supplier of buyers in Europe. The wholesaler will change into flower provider and deals with coordination of supply and logistics and sometimes with marketing which is needed to fulfil the wishes of the client (Rabobank. Each grower tries to be recognizable in the market by means of product availability and quality. Importance of the auction clock will decrease and be replaced by more direct sales methods in fixed chains. fast developing trends such as total production volume increase. Combined with so called “soft”-factors such as grower’s reliability. a very complex market place is realized where the value of reliable information is very high when translating strategic goals into daily operations. Over the last century. These daily operations should add value to the product and result in profit for a company. Flowers will be sold in increasing amounts via supermarkets. To guarantee this. most of the time there are more producers than buyers. up-scaling per company. Currently the Dutch flower auctions and its surrounding Dutch floricultural trading companies have been developing as giant players in global floricultural trade. Also this consumption is hard to forecast.

Not all existing and new companies and chains will achieve this transparency. products. uncertain and highly competitive global floricultural environment forces links of the Flower Supply Chain (FSC) to be more efficient and effective. distributors have to improve logistical performances. 2000) Stage in the SCM Growers / Producers • • • • • • • • • Wholesalers Retailers Consumer Market Developments Increasing production costs due to governmental rules concerning environmental and consumer related issues Lower prices due to liberalization of markets Reducing number of and scaling-up of farms Scaling-up. This results most of the time in redesign of the FSC. all members in a FSC should work seamlessly together to serve the end customer. • Service-providers: Cost price of the product is lower caused by more effective processes in the chain. technology. so possibly two groups of companies will emerge in the international flower market: • Product-providers: Companies that are incapable of acting flexible on uncertainties will stay in every-day-faster trading. Retailers have to reshuffle their assortments and delivery strategies. Increase of decision-making uncertainty: Changes in markets. Attention to customer value: The socio-economic developments described earlier have led to increased emphasis on the creation of value for customers. leads to a thorough understanding of the necessity to perform well as a total FSC. As a result. 2000 en Chainge. decisions should be made on shorter notice. and producers have to use more environment friendly production methods. The knowledge that other actors in the FSC can damage all the efforts taken to preserve high product quality. with less information and with higher penalty costs. customers wish more and more that value is added to floricultural products they buy. 3. with huge amounts of flowers. The need to redesign flower supply chains: The keys to long-term competitive advantage in today’s marketplace are flexibility and customer response. and competitors are occurring at an increasingly rapid speed. Producing companies are forced to change from push (supply) oriented production to pull (demand) oriented production. Margins are low and so are transaction costs. a tool for the horticultural sector As mentioned before.Table 1: An overview of developments in different stages in the flower supply chains (FSC) (Van der Vorst. It can be estimated that by creating a responsive customer driven FSC. the profitability can improve drastically (Van der Vorst. To serve these consumers. This has implications for all stages in the FSC. concentration and global sourcing World-wide concentration and/or co-operation of wholesalers World-wide concentration and/or co-operation of retailers More consumer knowledge through new ICT Growing relative importance of supermarkets Saturated markets and Mass customization Quality management models. companies have to work closely together. 2. Some main factors behind this are: 1. the turbulent. This is possible because chains are transparent and companies are working closely . Like mentioned already. with low added value and with other customers and chains every day. To maximize a competitive advantage. 2002). So there is a high need for transparency in the chain to make value adding processes profitable and effective.

(Van der Vorst. This lower cost price is reinvested in service and will lead to more direct sales in fixed chains and more long term profits (Rabobank. A driving force behind SCM is the recognition that the sub-optimal is reached if each organization in a Supply Chain attempts to optimize its own results rather than to integrate its goals and activities with other organizations to optimize the results of the entire chain. Technical Production environment Production Process Quality Total Quality Management Supply Chain Management EgyptFlor members Standards for: How to get High production? Variety How much water? How much fertilizer? Grading Etc. (Botden and Van Kooten. especially when agricultural products have to travel a long way through an international chain before reaching a market place. 2002 and Botden. how to produce and how to supply. 2001). Some characteristics and development levels are visualized in figure 1. reliable Employees optimal Internal control Cont. 2001. . 2000 and Botden. improvement Etc. and demographic and market developments combined with developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). From initial farm and/or chain development stage. this should finally lead to a higher management performance as implemented in the supply chains (Van der Vorst. when to produce. Figure 1: Farm and chain characteristics and development levels. 2002). Standards for: How to get High Quality Chain performance Chain efficiency Chain approach Chain control Cont. That is when the interest for improved levels of managing farm and/or chain gets generated. 2000). there is an increasing interest in optimizing farm and/or supply chain performance. Since the complete FSC is using this information and depending on each other. the better the chain will perform as it will be able to respond efficient to consumer demands. to prevent financial losses. Market information can be converted towards production planning and result in information on what to produce. improvement Etc. This leads to more closed supply chains who simultaneously work together in trying to serve final customers as best as possible. Based on the very dynamic factors mentioned before. edited from Beulens. Standards for: How to get High Quality production? Better variety Optimized irrigation Optimized fertilizer Optimized grading Etc. This results in higher benefits for every link of the chain.together to serve the consumer with highest possible service. 2002). Standards for: How to get High Quality Farm perfomance Efficient. The earlier information from the market is known upstream in the chain. The increased interest in Supply Chain Management has also been spurred by intensified competition (due to open EU-markets). mostly based on trust in each other. these FSC become more closed since valuable information is shared throughout the complete FSC.

certification). 2002). All processes in a chain that look after flower quality are together called Total Quality Management. To serve final customers with a high flower quality. will give a ’licence” to also perform on commercial quality levels. When the distance to the market is large. Performing well on social quality levels and environmental quality levels. The main quality problems. When current strategies cannot be changed in future. However. these days flower quality is besides the product quality also more and more defined by involved process quality. connection with society and the market will be lost. 2002. As mentioned. even more attention should be paid to quality aspects in order to compete with other suppliers on the market. prod trade cons Commercial Quality Environmental Quality Social Quality Profit Branding Labeling Certification Planet People Figure 2: Flower quality as result of 3 quality factors. After harvest. Flower buyers demand from companies active in horticulture that they pay respect to the environment (planet). mechanical damage. and to social aspects for workers such as health care. (Botden. Usually employees just carry . In the past. this flower quality was mostly defined by product quality. wilting and overheating during transport. edited from De Boon. everything should be done to maintain this initial product quality or to minimize any decrease in product quality. companies need full commitment of their employees. safety and working conditions (people). This initial product quality is created up till the moment of harvest. problems with flower opening. This commitment is called the HHH-principle. The matrix of these 3 different components is shown in figure 2. Terhürne. which is shown in figure 3. Important is that all links in a flower supply chain are aware of these responsibilities because the total chain will have a certain performance based on the performance of the individual links (Rabobank. The first “H” is for the hands employees use to handle the product. that they comply with demands made by the retail sector (profit) and that this is all regularly checked (labelling. An important message is that quality is not made in the “office by the management team of a company”. 2004 and Van Houtte. in the past flower quality was mostly defined by product quality. in order to reach the flower-buying consumer. 2000). which can occur in post-harvest phases of cut flowers are: heterogeneous maturity. fungi infections. 2003. The impact and speed of these changes is high and is leading to regular strategy changes by producers of flowers or companies active in the chain. bacterial growth. and thus performing on Total Quality Management.Flower quality is more than product quality Flower quality can be defined as if the expectation of the buyer before purchase does meet or exceed his or her experience after purchase.

Egypt is suitable for floricultural production as it has a good climate. EgyptFlor. growers need to co-operate. without thinking about the product. It wants to be able to compete with existing flower suppliers around the globe. a good availability of production factors like water. light and fertile soils and relative cheap labour. they will also start to feel responsible. Egypt has a history in growing flowers on relative small scale for mainly domestic markets. since the growers were still competing on local markets but working together in building up an export market position at the same time. but the current market situation offers the opportunity of exporting Egyptian flowers. For this. it wants to achieve a better development of rural areas. as it appeared too difficult for individual growers to deliver export quality produce and compete on the international markets. a continuously. reliable supply of high quality flowers should be realised and good relations with buyers need to be established. Egypt wants to become a long term successful and strong supplier of flowers in the world market. That is where the “H” from heart comes in! Hands Head Heart TQM Performance Figure 3: HHH-analysis method. an ambitious co-operation of Egyptian flower producers About two years ago. To achieve this. When they start to think about it as a perishable product which can be easily damaged and should be handled with care. Very important is also it good location to supply both markets in Europe and in the Middle East. the exporting flower growers started to work together in exports as EgyptFlor. This was not easy. supported by the Dutch governmental Centre for Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI). Main goal of the Egyptian floricultural sector is to export successfully to destinations such as Dutch auctions or by direct sales to Europe. the second “H” for head also starts to play a role in determining final product quality. When employees are made responsible for certain parts of the process and therefore product quality. production needs convertion from supply driven to market driven. By doing so. Floricultural exports from Egypt. a status quo analysis In this rapidly changing international horticultural business. And they will become proud of their work. the co-operation became visible in airfreight . In this process.out their work automatically. mainly exporting to the Dutch auctions. This was recognized by some flower production companies. the Egyptian floricultural sector is trying to establish its place. which lead to the birth of EgyptFlor. the company and the product. a better quality of life in Egypt and improvement of business development in the country.

capability and motivation levels of farms for co-operation and implementation of TQM can be defined. Step 1: Life-cycle. planning production tactical label management (sales. independent information about the EgyptFlor product at the point of sale. The EgyptFlor TQM system will show the performance of each farm on daily basis by monitoring a large set of key performance indicators. EgyptFlor Market label Management. Co-operation should lead to reliable supplies of high quality flowers and to marketing power. A farm wants to share valuable information with another farm when it gets the same value in information back. EgyptFlor is defining its strategy for the future. when farms have similar positions in life-cycle analysis and have about the same development level (Figure 5). TQM will also give reliable. The configuration of the TQM system is shown in figure 4 and is explained in following chapters. Sharing information is based on motivation and trust. Grading. Egyptflor farms. Development. should share information. As they ship together now. forecast.consolidation by shipping the flowers together resulting in good airfreight prices. though competing on domestic markets. and should harmonize the performance of each individual farm towards EgyptFlor group standards to achieve more homogeneous floral exports from Egypt as whole. By analysing HHHlevel (see figure 3). strategic. EgyptFlor TQM objective and configuration Market label. The members of EgyptFlor agree that further co-operation is necessary in order to build up an international market position which is favourable for the EgyptFlor farms. but also for the total floricultural sector of Egypt. Co-operation is easier. in order to monitor the performance of the total supply chain. To support the cooperation and the realisation of their common goals. Concluded has been that farms compete on productivity and quality . Based on these three analyses. Today EgyptFlor starts also in joint purchase of goods needed for flower production. operational surrounding Sorting. in summer 2005 EgyptFlor successfully requested USAID funding for the implementation of a total quality management system (TQM).and HHH-level analysis to define mode of entry of TQM For co-operation and strengthening of performance in export. Packing Harv est Logistics Auction/ buyers Market Figure 4: EgyptFlor TQM configuration. now and in the future. marketing) Environment / society Quality Design Quality improvement Quality Control Quality Assurance SGS: EgyptFlor approved Flower product flow in supply chain. by creating volume and diversity. it has become clear which farms are comparable and which farms are very different.

so called KPI (Key performance indicators). from field till final auction clock if applicable. so this was chosen as the mode of entry for TQM implementation. EgyptFlor decided to start with commercial quality aspects. These KSF sets are focussing on different parts of the supply chain. Adult Cost Consolidation focus = EgyptFlor farm 7 8 5 2 3 Growth Market focus 1 1 4 6 5 8 7 2 Dying Stop / Sell focus 3 = EgyptFlor farm Technical Production environment Production Process Quality Total Supply Quality Chain Management Management Birth Production focus 6 Figure 5: EgyptFlor life-cycle (A) and development level (B) analysis Step 2: Quality Design As mentioned before. All EgyptFlor farms have agreed that they are weak in post-harvest management and further supply chain optimization. more specific with product and process factors which directly influence post-harvest quality of flowers (Figure 6a). First. where TQM phase 1 is a small set to start with. When a farm successfully implements these standards. For example. a next set can be added. EgyptFlor formulated standards for product and process quality. As it is almost impossible to start with improvement of every quality aspect at once. and that the farms are not equal in performance on this level. KPI’s water temperature and water bacterial contamination are belonging to KSF water quality.realised during production.and process quality has been spread over 4 TQM phases. leading from TQM Phase 1 to Phase 2 and so on (Figure . social and commercial quality performance. TQM possible module example General Management Sales EFM-GAP(retailer demands) Unpacking Logistic to auction / customer Logistic to airport Packing Post-cooling Grading Pre-cooling Harvest Growing Propagation Sowing + starting material EFM-Q(uality) Air cargo EFM-E(environment) = MPS EFM-SQ(social qualified) = Fair Flowers program General Management Sales General Management Logistic to auction / customer Air cargo Logistic to airport Packing Water Quality Grading Pre-cooling Harvest Growing Propagation Sowing + starting material Farm Hygiene Post-cooling Farm level Irrigation + Fertigation Process Management Chain level Specific Crop requirements Flower Handling Unpacking Logistics Chain level EgyptFlor KSF-standards for EFM-Q(uality) Climate Crop protection HRM Farm level Figure 6: EgyptFlor TQM possible quality modules (A) and KSF-configuration for EFM-Q(uality) module (B) The total set of standards for product. This is shown in figure 6b. flower quality is a combination of environmental. KPI’s belonging to the same family are grouped in KSF (Key success factors).

formulated and valorized. adaptive conjoint analysis software was used. then following factors were investigated for each process quality parameter: • If the process quality parameter was applicable on Egyptian flower companies • If the process quality parameter needed to be reformulated • What the current performance was of the process quality parameter (EgyptFlor standard) . HortiSolutions prepared a list of about 145 process quality parameters for all stages from production till place of shipping. EgyptFlor group standards (current target) and EgyptFlor Optimal levels (future goal) were set. valorized by assigning weight factors. Other farm Pilot farm Other farm General Management TQM step 4 Sales Unpacking Logistic to auction / customer Air cargo Logistic to airport Packing Post-cooling Grading Pre-cooling Harvest Growing Propagation Sowing + starting material Farm level TQM step 3 TQM step 2 TQM step 1 Chain level General Management Sales Unpacking Logistic to auction / customer Air cargo Logistic to airport Packing Post-cooling Grading Pre-cooling Harvest Growing Propagation Sowing + starting material Farm level EgyptFlor TQM Project Chain level Figure 7: EgyptFlor TQM-phases for up-scaling (A) and TQM implementation configuration in group (B) Step 2a: Quality Design of Product quality KPI parameters Product Quality KPI parameters were clearly designed. Moluccella and Solidago. To catalyse the group discussion leading to product quality standard definitions. and to copy their experiences towards the other farms (Figure 7B). For every involved product quality parameter.7A). of flower buds/stem Diameter Maturity Stage / Ripeness Leaf Quality No of leaves per flower branch Flower bud size Optimal Level 4 buds / stem 10 mm stage 2 Some Tip burning 3 pairs diameter 2. During a complete farm tour. EgyptFlor decided to start implementation on a few pilot farms. Most optimal levels of a KPI (future goal) and weight factors were set by HortiSolutions based on scientific and practical knowledge. Product Quality Standards EgyptFlor TQM Phase 1 Pilot crop 1: Carthamus Pilot Farm implementation: EmmeFlor Quality Factor Nr. See figure 8. formulated and valorized in cooperation with the farm managers of the EgyptFlor group for the pilot products Carthamus.5 cm EgyptFlor standard 5 buds / stem 10 mm stage 2 No Tip burning more than 5 pairs diameter 4 cm Weight Factors 25% 19% 19% 19% 12% 7% 100% Figure 8: Adaptive conjoint analysis software (A) and Product Quality definition list of TQM Phase 1 (B) Step 2b: Quality Design of Process quality KPI parameters Also Process Quality KPI parameters were designed.

also KPI’s about product.5 . Reliability of these data is independently checked on a regular basis by an EgyptFlor TQM inspector who has been assigned by the EgyptFlor group. formulated and valorized for the logistical parts of the supply chain using the same method as for creating the KPI parameters for process quality applicable on farm level.chlorine (4 .6. Also this list was then spread over the 4 TQM phases of implementation. • After arrival at the Dutch Flower auctions. also KPI parameters were designed. The checking procedures go along with TQM manuals which describe how to check a parameter and why a parameter is important. (Figure 9) Together with logistic departments of the EgyptFlor group. defined KPI’s are controlled and results are put in the central TQM management system.5 Check status of this rule Check status of this rule no < 1x / 2 weeks < 1x / 2 weeks 6. the same set is used as on the farms where the change in value can be used as measurement for initial quality loss.5. Step 4: TQM continuously monitoring and improvement ICT infrastructure Current trend in floriculture is that farm and/or chain managers get more and more information each day because of improved information channels by for example improved ICT. • At Cairo airport.120 (40-100 (120 ppm) 4 ppm) 12 ppm) ppm) ppm) Measure pH of the water in the harvest bucket? > 7 of < 4.5 -6 4. Some are quantitative (for example temperature) where others are qualitative (source of water). KPI Ident TQM Phase 1 TQM Level TQM Phase 2 TQM Phase 3 TQM Phase 4 Criteria vol g nr Use 31 Department 04: Harvest KSF 01: Water Quality KPI nr 12 Criteria Method 1: Bad no 2: Moderate 3: Average 4: Good sometimes 5: Excellent x x x x Use of chlorine in harvestbuckets Check status of this rule 32 04: Harvest 01: Water Quality 01: Water Quality 01: Water Quality 02: Farm Hygiene 02: Farm Hygiene 13 x x 33 34 35 36 04: Harvest 04: Harvest 04: Harvest 04: Harvest 14 15 01 02 x x x x x x x x x x Dose of chlorine in harvest bucket or harvestwagon (concentration chlorine) When chlorine in the harvest bucket.(100 .5 sometimes 5. For product quality parameters.5 .5 always 37 04: Harvest 05: Logistics 01 x x Check status of this rule Average lead time of three harvest buckets from Time between filling of harvest moment of water filling and buckets with water and filling with moment that flowers are put in flowers 1x / 2 weeks 1x / 2 weeks 1 x / week 1 x / week 2x / week 2x / week 1x / day 1x / day > 60 min < 60 min < 45 min < 30 min < 20 min Figure 9: Snapshot of Process Quality KPI parameters Step 3: Quality Control The KPI’s for product and process quality have to be measured with different frequencies.and process quality are controlled. .• What the wanted checking frequency was for the process quality parameter Result of this tour was a complete list of about 145 farm Process Quality KPI parameters with their EgyptFlor standard (current target) and their optimal levels (future goal) and weight factors as set earlier by HortiSolutions. There are different checkpoints in the chain assigned: • Each farm has one responsible TQM person assigned who ensures data collection and importation into the TQM management system which automatically reports the farm status and defines necessary improvements.7 6 .40 amount of much Hardly any Little ppm) or chlorine chlorine chlorine (0 . pH of the water in the harvest bucket Loose leaves are taken out of the water Frequency of cleaning harvest tools such as knives Cleaning harvest tools such as knives with desinfectant Measure concentration of the chlorine always Sufficient amount of No (0 ppm) chlorine Good or too (12 .

In this TQM project. Based on the data in the online TQM database.range: Warning action allert Difference WITHIN +/. And if farms or chain links are working according to own and/or internationally recognized standards. reports. analyses and drilldown can be printed and exported to Excel or Powerpoint (Figure 11). The system. this is realised by online internet based analysis of the differences between actual value and the standard of a KPI.range: Immediately action allert Analysis of data Difference CLOSE to +/. which will be implemented step by step in spring 2006. but is not yet available online. Information is not going through the smart TQM filter and is not reaching the manager by any warning. • Red: KPI performance is out of set standard range. certification of the farm is possible which is also a good communication tool for marketing purposes. Information is going through the smart TQM filter and is reaching the manager as “alarm”. strategies for further improvement of the farm or chain can be defined and implemented. Information is going through the smart TQM filter and reaching the manager as “warning”. The growers and chain partners who will have access to the EgyptFlor TQM portal will see management dashboards where the KPI as mentioned above are shown for their performance and indicated with a kind of traffic light if the performance is according to the EgyptFlor standards or not.It’s important that the huge amount of information is filtered. Instant graphics. . Quality Design = EgyptFlor TQM STANDARDS for product and process Smart TQM info filter Traffic light Difference OUT of +/. • Orange: KPI performance is within the set standard range. In general this works as a combination of a funnel and a traffic light (Figure 10): • Green: KPI performance is within the set standard range. but reaching the boundaries.range: NO warning Quality Control = EgyptFlor TQM DATA COLLECTION for product and process More Internal Data More External Data Figure 10: Configuration of smart internet based TQM information filter Result is a system that generates management information based on the actual performance of an Egyptflor company. We are currently implementing an SQL server with Web-interface so that the growers in Egypt can start to view their weekly submitted data of TQM1 phase. and that only information which is not within the range of set standards is going through. . offers: • 14 departments per farm which can be accessed online individually • 10 KSF families on generic process quality parameters and 3 crop specific process quality parameters (the three pilotcrops) • About 170 KPI are within these 13 KSF families to monitor farm and chain performance • Benchmark possibilities to compare KPI performance between companies Current project situation is that the system has been setup.

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