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.
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.
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.
In this guest blog post, Alexis Ellicott, CNFA Chief of Party on the USAID/Agro-Inputs Project tells Farming First how women are being empowered to enter into the male-dominated sector.
Women produce more than half of the world’s food. Global population is forecast to reach 9 billion by 2050, and the world’s women will continue to shoulder a huge share of the responsibility for feeding all those additional mouths.
But time is not on women’s side. According to the World Economic Forum, we still will be more than 120 years from full gender parity in 2050. It is no stretch to foresee that this continued lack of parity, should it persist as forecast, will severely hinder the ability of women to perform their key role in feeding the world’s population—and produce a potentially disastrous shortfall in the global food supply.
Given these facts, it is clear that if we are to meet our future food needs, we must put increased emphasis on empowering the world’s women farmers and rural women entrepreneurs. And we must act quickly.
Empowering women in many – perhaps most – areas of the world is not a simple task. As anyone involved in global development can attest, efforts to promote gender parity must clear hurdles unique to the social and cultural setting of each initiative.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day — “Be Bold for Change” – hits close to home for me. For the last two years, I have lived in Bangladesh, working with Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), which is implementing the USAID/Agro-Inputs Project (AIP). The effort has been a broad success, not only for men, but also for women. Through the creation of a local Agro-Input Retailers Network (AIRN), AIP now provides funding, training, and technical advice to more than 3,000 retailers selling inputs such as seed and fertilizer – including more than 200 women in what previously had been an almost entirely male-dominated sector.
KARNPLAY, Nimba – A group of 57 people at the Gbehlay-Geh Rural Women Multipurpose Cooperative Society received a US$100,000 loan to boost their rice and cassava production on March 1 in Karnplay.
The group, chaired by Annie Kruah, was formed in September 2005 with a focus on agriculture produce, including rice, cassava, and oil palm. In a special remark during a brief ceremony held prior to the loan distribution, Kruah cautioned her members to treat the loan repayment process with sincerity.
“Women, they have given us a challenge… and they are saying that if we cannot make it, other people will not make it,” Kruah said. “My women, I want [you] to leave proud on the Gbehlay-Geh name. The way the people look at us and respect us… they jumped over the other cooperatives and came to us. Please make us proud so that they can know that women [are] in the county.”
“This challenge is not even for us alone, but for the whole county,” Kruah added. “Let’s get on our feet; let’s put on trousers and work, please. This money is not for pleasure; it’s for working! Let us get in the swamp to work, so that this trial they give us, we can be able to make it.”