Focus on factors affecting food security and the changing landscape for development assistance.
June 13, 2012 — Land O’Lakes President and CEO Chris Policinski this week participated in two panels sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington, D.C.
The panels focused on critical issues affecting food security, including climate change, as well as the changing landscape for development assistance. Called “Frontiers in Development,” the forum was held in Washington, D.C., and featured some of the leading voices in international development, government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
Public-Private Partnerships – Making the Case with Results
During the panels, Policinski discussed how to leverage public-private partnerships in emerging markets. His insights were drawn from Land O’Lakes’ more than 30 years as a leader in International Development, with the cooperative having facilitated some 275 government-funded projects in 80 nations.
With funding provided primarily by USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Land O’Lakes has worked with more than 5,000 private-sector businesses, including large multi-national companies, non-governmental organizations, in-country farm organizations and private investors.
“Public-private partnerships are essential to the success of international development efforts,” Policinski said. “This isn’t a role just for government or just for private industry. Development benefits most when it utilizes the strengths of both entities. The U.S. government’s investment provides the impetus for investment from outside companies and other entities – including private investment dollars generated in-country.”
As an example, Policinski referred to a Land O’Lakes-facilitated project -- the Malawi Dairy Development Alliance – noting that every dollar invested by USAID generated nearly $4 of local, private investment. Due to the support received, the $5.7 million project significantly reduced poverty and hunger by strengthening Malawi’s smallholder dairy industry.
Policinski noted that there’s “no one formula for success” when it comes to creating successful international partnerships among governments, in-country investors and other private industries. “Each challenge is different. But, with that said, there is one constant: results matter. When the private sector becomes involved in international development work, they’re looking for results. With a tough economy and intense competition for every dollar spent, donors want to know that the investments they’re making are paying off. So, project facilitators and sponsors need to demonstrate how projects are making a positive difference.”
Sustainable Productivity – Critical to Feeding a Growing Population
In a panel discussion on the factors affecting food security – including climate change – Policinski acknowledged that while views on the scope and impact of climate change may vary, “one thing we can all agree on is that as land and water resources become more constrained – affected by climate shifts, urbanization and other factors -- we must find new and better ways to meet the growing demand for food globally.”
Policinski cited a Land O’Lakes’ effort modeled on the company’s Answer Plots® initiative in the U.S. that utilizes a tailored approach to increasing crop quality and production through improved farming techniques.
Called Jibu Plots® in Kenya, farmers are able to see first-hand with “test fields” how certain technologies and products will work in their local environment, as well as compare traditional and modern farming practices. This enables farmers to begin making effective economic decisions with their limited resources and treat “farming as a business,” making sound choices about which inputs and production practices will maximize their outputs.
“By using the right products and technologies – and tapping into the knowledge of agronomic experts embedded in each community (who conduct the sessions) – farmers in developing countries can drive more output with fewer crop inputs and less water, land and energy use,” Policinski said.
Policinski also noted the cooperative’s leadership in developing products (such as drought-resistant corn, which is being tested in Answer Plot® fields, and Low Lignin Alfalfa, which is optimal as a feed for dairy cows) are prime examples of the “value of agricultural innovation.”
In summary, Policinski said producing more food with fewer resources and in a more sustainable manner requires:
· A focus on using safe and proven technologies to optimize productivity,
· Expanding collaboration on – and the conversation about – food security issues, listening to different viewpoints and ideas,
· Raising the level of public and private investment in sustainable agriculture research and development, and
· Reducing loss across the food chain to optimize on-farm production and off-farm benefit of that production.
“The U.S. is a leader in agriculture and food technology. But the opportunity to lead extends to many others. as well. The diverse group of leaders represented at this forum demonstrates the interconnectedness and complexity of addressing food security on a global scale.”
Land O’Lakes, Inc. (www.landolakesinc.com) is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative with annual sales of nearly $13 billion. The nation’s second-largest cooperative and number 210 on the Fortune 500, Land O’Lakes does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. It is a leading marketer of a full line of dairy-based consumer, foodservice and food ingredient products across the United States; serves its international customers with a variety of food and animal feed ingredients; and provides farmers and ranchers with an extensive line of agricultural supplies (feed, seed and crop protection products) and services. Land O’Lakes also provides agricultural assistance and technical training in more than 25 developing nations.
For more information on the Malawi Dairy Development Alliance, click here.
For more information on JibuPlots, click here.