Sylvain Roy: International development benefits donors and beneficiaries alike

Sylvain Roy: International development benefits donors and beneficiaries alike

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International development efforts designed to drive economic growth through agriculture generate a wide range of benefits for populations in less developed areas of the world.

These projects have transformed local economies in some of the world’s poorest regions—reducing hunger, increasing food security, creating jobs and laying the groundwork for a better future for millions of people.

It’s no secret that economic stability is a prerequisite for stable nations, as people who see a positive future ahead are far less inclined to be attracted by extremist ideologies.

Development projects also provide the opportunity for trainers and implementers from wealthier countries to serve as “citizen diplomats” as they work alongside members of beneficiary populations. These collaborative efforts serve as a natural environment for each party to develop greater insight into the other’s culture—and to exchange knowledge and information that opens new doors of understanding that can lay the groundwork for innovative approaches and solutions.

These are some of the reasons that the United States and other economically advantaged nations continue to invest in international development—agricultural and otherwise.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S. in 2016 was responsible for a total of $33.6 billion in official development assistance, more than any other nation by volume, and nearly two-tenths of one percent of the US’s gross national income.

For decades, this U.S. generosity has underwritten countless international development projects—both U.S.-directed and in collaboration with partner nations and organizations. This investment has established the U.S. as a leading force in improving the livelihoods of others around the world.

In fact, there is a very good business case for continuing these investments: International development is an extremely cost-effective way to introduce and showcase U.S. products, technology and know-how in the world’s newest markets.

U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations, companies, universities and other entities implementing development programs are doing more than simply stimulating economic growth. They also serve as a kind of cooperative “chamber of commerce” that promotes and introduces new solutions—typically U.S.-sourced—to improve the economies and quality of life of target populations.

For example, projects that introduce new technology and techniques to improve local agricultural sectors often provide farmers with their first exposure to a wide range of new agricultural tools, machinery, services and inputs—manufactured and distributed by U.S. companies.

Better yet, as projects mature, they begin to serve as operational models that can be duplicated on a wider scale, increasing and spreading demand for the products and services on which the improved agricultural approaches rely.

As a result, international development supports U.S.-based industries. For example, my own organization—CNFA while implementing a USAID project in Georgia (country), tapped Oklahoma-based pest-control product manufacturer TRECE to produce and deliver lures and traps to cover thousands of locations to fight a stink bug infestation threatening the nation’s agricultural sector. CNFA selected the Trécé system after competitively testing a variety of solutions, then worked directly with Georgia’s National Food Agency to deploy the traps and lures and train local farmers on their use. Georgian farmers benefited and a U.S. company saw its sales increase, generating profits that went right back into local communities in Oklahoma.

An integral part of the development work of groups like CNFA in Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and Latin America involves promoting better crop farming and livestock rearing practices. Such practices call for appropriate use of good quality seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and veterinary drugs and vaccines.

The market development focus of many projects works with farmers and processors to determine how and which technologies and services can help them expand, encourages the presence of local agro-dealer shops that sell or rent these technologies, and facilitates credit or other forms of financing for farmers or their associations to be able to acquire them. A large portion of these products and associated services are supplied by U.S. corporations.

For example, South Asia has accounted for around one-quarter of the global increase in fertilizer use between 2014 and 2018, while sub-Saharan Africa has accounted for another 5% of the global increase. The U.S. supplies a large volume of fertilizers to these and many other countries.

Some may question whether these countries are too poor to ever provide significant markets for U.S. goods. As Ricardo Michel, former head of USAID’s Center for Transformational Partnerships, has noted, 11 of the 15 biggest importing countries of US goods and services were beneficiaries of US foreign aid in the past.

Today about one-half of all US exports are destined for developing and emerging economies. Success stories such as South Korea, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Vietnam were major foreign aid recipients that have transformed into vibrant markets for US consumer goods and services, from food and drink brands to computers and financial services.

From my 30+ years working in this field, I have no doubt that international development is a win-win. It benefits the world’s neediest people—and it’s good for U.S. business.

Sylvain Roy, CNFA President & CEO

Sylvain Roy: Behind the Success of the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Approach

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USAID, Nestlé, others partner to train agro-business owners in Kaduna State

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Nestlé Nigeria Plc, Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) and VEGA-member Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) have announced a new partnership programme to train farmers, workers and small businesses in Kaduna State.

Dr. Daney Jackson featured in OSU Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership Alumni Spotlight

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Tulsa World – Bill Lingren: Foreign aid isn’t just about helping foreign people

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I am a solid believer in keeping America’s businesses strong and growing— particularly here in Oklahoma.

I founded Trécé, Inc., in Salinas, California, in 1984 and expanded the company there for 18 years. I could have grown my company — which develops, manufactures and sells state-of-the-art insect monitoring and control systems — anywhere in the country. But I moved the company to Oklahoma in 2002 which provides many opportunities for small business growth. Now, 33 years after its founding, Trécé ships Oklahoma-made products to farm-focused distributors in 50 states and more than 60 countries worldwide.

Although we work with others around the world to create new and more effective solutions, Trécé’s main focus remains right here Oklahoma — in Adair and Chelsea — where we continue to improve our operations through investments in people, research, development and manufacturing.

 As a result, our Oklahoma-based staff of 35 full-time and 45 part-time employees can pretty much do it all. Our own chemists manage every formulation, for example, and Trécé engineers build all of our equipment. This home-grown approach has been good for Oklahoma, and has made us an extremely efficient company, as well as an effective competitor — not only in the United States, but also in the global market, where the need to protect agricultural crops continues to grow.

That need to protect crops — the need which fuels our business — can be even more critical in developing countries, where jobs, livelihoods and economies often are more dependent on agriculture.

Sometimes, in fact, an infestation may carry such severe potential economic consequences in a developing nation that our own government steps in to help. And while it’s true that some people have mixed feelings about international development aid — for example, the kind of financial aid provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development — those people may not see the whole picture.

We at Trécé can attest to that. Here is how it worked in one of our cases.

One of the invasive pests our company targets — the brown marmorated stink bug — is posing a major threat to the economic well-being of hazelnut farmers in the nation of Georgia. According to one study, that infestation had the potential in 2016 to cut more than $60 million from the value of hazelnut exports and income to 40,000 smallholder Georgian farmers. This also is exactly the sort of problem that USAID targets.

 In this particular case, an international development organization that implements USAID initiatives — Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture — approached Trécé as a potential partner in mitigating the infestation. After a series of trials, CNFA purchased tens of thousands of our Oklahoma-made kits (lures and traps) to protect Georgia’s hazelnut sector, as well as to safeguard other key crops such as grapes, corn, peaches, apples and vegetables.

The bottom line is that international development aid does not flow in just one direction — it often benefits people on both sides of the equation. In this case, a single development project is saving critical crops and helping thousands of smallholder farmers in Georgia, while providing significant returns that benefit local communities right here in Oklahoma.

When we work to bolster economic opportunity for others around the world, we can simultaneously advance our own nation’s economic goals, because doing good is just good business.

And that leaves everyone with a good feeling all around.

Bill Lingren, a graduate of Oklahoma State University, is the founder and CEO of Adair-based Trécé, Inc., which manufactures and markets insect pheromone and kairomone-based products.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Let Communities Take the Reins on Building Resilience

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Doug Keesling in The Hill – Feeding the world: A farmer’s perspective

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Georgian Journal: Culinary competition demonstrating US-Georgia friendship

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United States Drought Response Reduced Suffering for over 2 Million Zimbabweans as Malnutrition Declines

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