In a post-conflict area, or even in a current conflict area, providing economic opportunity is important in generating stability, peace and reconciliation.
- Jon Halverson, vice president for international development at Land O’Lakes
DevEx interviewed Jon Halverson, vice president for international development at Land O'Lakes, the second biggest cooperative in the U.S., about their work boosting dairy sector farmers in post-conflict regions like Sri Lanka. From the interview:
We envision blending development work with seeding commercial opportunities. It is important that all our development work have an exit strategy and a sustainable model that encompasses the private sector from the beginning...It’s unfortunate that often development gets put into one camp, and commercial activity is put in another. Because Land O’Lakes International Development division is under the corporate umbrella, we can bring to bear the best of our corporate capability, in terms of crop inputs, animal nutrition and dairy cooperatives. That experience influences how we think about development. We want to issue a call to action to our peers in the industry to let them know that this model works.
Halverson tempers the enthusiasm for the growth of a middle class in developing countries, conceding the tenuous economic status of the majority of dairy farmers around the world:
The developing world is changing, but I want to be careful when we talk about the emerging middle class. Some say there are as many as 200 to 250 million people in Africa who are now getting to the point where they buy their own transportation, and more convenience food, who can look ahead more than six months and save money – all the markers of being in the middle class. But there are still 250 to 450 million people in Africa who are extremely poor, and most of them are in agriculture – they are smallholder farmers.
Read Global Envision's coverage of Land O'Lakes' development work in Malawi and Bangladesh through the links below.