USAID and USDA have awarded funding to Land O’Lakes International Development for capacity building and food safety projects in six countries.

Five programs will focus on agricultural capacity building, food safety and cooperative development in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The amount of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) money was not disclosed but it will support efforts in Georgia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Rwanda and Malawi.

Land O’Lakes International Development is a nonprofit that helps communities build economies by strengthening local agriculture, helping businesses create jobs and linking farmers to markets. Since 1981, the organization has implemented more than 300 dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries. It is affiliated with Land O’Lakes Inc. – a farmer owned agri-business.

John Ellenberger, executive director of Land O’Lakes International Development, welcomed the partnership with USAID and USDA.

“We’re excited to build collaborative efforts for international economic development that unite host country agricultural stakeholders, Land O’Lakes, Inc. farmers and technical staff, government leaders and academic experts to maximize results.”

Alongside experts at Michigan State University and the Georgian Farmers Association, the nonprofit will help Georgian dairy and livestock agribusinesses to improve food safety and quality protocols. Food safety best practices will be built up through a private sector-led effort, supported by project partners and with food safety expertise from Land O’Lakes Inc. Funding for the five-year program is from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service via the Food for Progress Program.

Another five year project awarded funding via this same program is in Egypt. The Government of Egypt and the country’s food safety authority will be helped to inspect and coach businesses in new food safety standards. The program will tap into expertise of the International Food Protection Training Institute, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The Lebanon Investment in Quality (LINQ) Program, funded by USAID, is a three-year project to enhance food safety and quality expertise in the agribusiness and fresh products sectors. It will use technical support from Land O’Lakes, Inc. quality assurance experts.

Farmer-to-Farmer Food Safety and Quality (F2F FSQ) in Egypt, Lebanon and Bangladesh is a five-year USAID-funded program. Another project will provide assistance to Rwandan and Malawian agricultural cooperatives through USAID.

In 2016, Land O’Lakes International Development managed 17 projects in 13 countries funded primarily by USDA and USAID.

Last month, USAID assistant to the administrator for the Bureau for Food Security Beth Dunford, signed a partnership agreement with Land O’Lakes Inc. and Land O’Lakes International Development at a summit in Minnesota.

Dunford, also deputy coordinator for Development for Feed the Future, said the deal seeks collaboration opportunities that focus on scaling technology to smallholder farmers, including improved animal feed and crop protection to strengthen agriculture led growth.

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