Land O'Lakes International Development — a nonprofit helping communities around the world build economies by strengthening local agriculture, helping businesses create jobs and linking farmers to markets — said it was awarded funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and USDA to support new agricultural capacity building and food safety programs in Georgia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Rwanda and Malawi.

"Land O'Lakes International Development welcomes the ongoing partnership of USAID and USDA as we continue leveraging the expertise of a nearly century-old, farmer-owned cooperative to improve livelihoods and enhance agriculture worldwide," said John Ellenberger, executive director of Land O'Lakes International Development. "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."          

The five new programs focus on agricultural capacity building, food safety and cooperative development, the organization, founded by Arden Hills, Minn.-based Land O’Lakes Inc., said. The projects include:

  • Lebanon (food safety): The Lebanon Investment in Quality program, funded by USAID, is a three-year project focused on enhancing food safety and quality expertise in the agribusiness and fresh products sectors. The project will leverage technical support from Land O'Lakes Inc. quality assurance experts, including both in-country volunteers and distance mentoring assignments.
  • Rwanda and Malawi (cooperative development program): Land O'Lakes International Development's strong business relationships and cooperative management expertise will help provide assistance to Rwandan and Malawian agricultural cooperatives through USAID. In addition to technical advice from the Land O'Lakes Inc. Member Relations team, Land O'Lakes Inc. member cooperatives will also provide technical assistance for the project.
  • Georgia (food safety — Food for Progress): Working alongside experts at Michigan State University and the Georgian Farmers Association, Land O'Lakes International Development will work with Georgian dairy and livestock agribusinesses to improve food safety and quality protocols. They will build up food safety best practices through a strong private sector-led effort, supported by the project partners and incorporating food safety expertise from Land O'Lakes Inc. Funding for this five-year program is provided by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service via the Food for Progress Program.
  • Egypt (food safety — Food for Progress): A five-year project will focus on work alongside the Government of Egypt and Egypt's National Food Safety Authority to inspect and coach food businesses in new food safety standards. The program will leverage the expertise of the International Food Protection Training Institute, FDA and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. The program has been awarded funding from USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service via the Food for Progress program.
  • Egypt, Lebanon and Bangladesh (Farmer-to-Farmer Food Safety and Quality): Farmer-to-Farmer Food Safety and Quality (F2F FSQ) is a five-year USAID-funded program that will provide technical assistance to host organizations by utilizing volunteer expertise. Land O'Lakes International Development said it began implementing Farmer-to-Farmer programs in 1987 and has sent more than 1,400 volunteers — including more than 160 Land O'Lakes Inc. staff and cooperative members — on F2F assignments in 27 countries.