Land O’Lakes International Development has launched the International Dairy Enterprise Alliance (IDEA), a learning network designed to provide dairy cooperatives in developing countries with the information, resources and technology they need to thrive and be competitive in national and regional markets.
Created as a core component of Land O’Lakes Cooperative Development Program (CDP), which is being funded by the American People through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the IDEA network is comprised of cooperatives, development organizations, research organizations, input suppliers, government bodies and nongovernmental organizations and other private sector partners.
“Our goal with IDEA is to provide a mechanism for cooperative managers and leaders to network with dairy stakeholders around the globe. A key feature of the cooperative model is learning and sharing,” explained Rebecca Savoie, Land O’Lakes International Development’s practice manager for Enterprise, Cooperative and Association Development. “Instead of competition, we want to create an environment of collaboration where members can share unique best practices, technology and innovative solutions to shared dairy industry and cooperative issues.”
“Considering Land O’Lakes is the second largest cooperative in the U.S. and 2012 is the International Year of the Cooperative, we think this is a particularly opportune moment to facilitate this type of robust dialogue.”
As learning and networking are central to IDEA, Land O’Lakes has planned a Cooperative-to-Cooperative Learning Series, which will bring together industry thought leaders, cooperative managers and board members to share their experiences and knowledge. The inaugural Cooperative-to-Cooperative Learning Series is taking place from February 28-March 1, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, and is being co-sponsored by Cooperative Resources International (CRI), a cooperative focused on animal breeding that also receives CDP funding through USAID. The event will include more than 40 participants representing 25 cooperatives from nine countries.
In addition to the Cooperative-to-Cooperative Learning Series, which will also host an event in India in 2013, IDEA will develop a knowledge management portal. The portal will provide a forum for IDEA members to collaborate and share strategies and tools.
The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, highlighting the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development, particularly their impact on poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration.
Founded in 1981, Land O'Lakes International Development functions as a not-for-profit division of the nearly $13 billion agribusiness cooperative Land O'Lakes, Inc. Through more than 260 projects in 76 countries to date, Land O'Lakes International Development assists people in emerging countries to develop cooperative systems and enterprises, improve their agricultural productivity and competitiveness, strengthen food systems and safety, bolster nutrition and health, and reduce food insecurity.
To date, Land O’Lakes International Development’s programs have assisted some 3 million people, and built or strengthened over 3,000 cooperatives worldwide. This is Land O’Lakes International Development’s third five-year USAID-funded Cooperative Development Program.