Bringing Expertise to Bangladesh

Originally published on March 19, 2015.

The following blog post was written by Kai Knutson, Land O'Lakes Supply Chain Talent Acceleration Program Associate, who is currently working with our Bangladesh Dairy Enhancement Program (BDEP). This post first appeared on the Land O'Lakes, Inc. Global Food Challenge website on March 9, 2015.

Greetings from Dhaka! I arrived two weeks ago from Minnesota, where I’ve worked for the past year in the Logistics and Sourcing departments as an associate in the Supply Chain Talent Acceleration Program (TAP). I grew up in the Twin Cities but actually started my career with Land O’Lakes at the Tulare Dairy Foods plant in central California. For more of that story, please read how I made my passion a profession.

Kai Knutson assists with planting corn for a fodder trial. Feed trials are a key component of the Bangladesh Dairy Enhancement Program.
It’s been quite a journey from the San Joaquin valley to the Ganges delta and the contrast between these areas is stark. In Tulare, some of our members’ herds are as large as five thousand cows, but here in Rajshahi and Khulna, the regions in which Land O’Lakes Bangladesh Dairy Enhancement Program (BDEP) are focusing our efforts, the average herd size is two. And many of those cows are malnourished, producing less than five pounds of milk per day, which is less than one-tenth the U.S. average. So, BDEP a three-year, $6 million Feed the Future initiative funded by the USDA, has a real opportunity to increase the productivity of dairy cattle in Bangladesh and the profitability of the country’s farmers.

Land O’Lakes has expertise in an area where Bangladesh has a real need: animal nutrition. In field trials, our Dairy Development Officers have shown how feeding cows a mixed ration of local ingredients can increase milk production by more than fifty-percent.  In fact, one local cow now produces four times the amount of milk it did before the program.  On-farm advising also educates farmers how improving fodder and water provision can decrease cows’ calving intervals, resulting in more frequent lactation. So, by paying ৳60 (less than $0.80) more each day for better feed, farmers get more milk as well as more calves, which they can then sell for income or use to grow their herds.

Next week, I’ll be traveling to Khulna where I’ll be applying my training as a microbiologist to compare milk collected at our village MCCs to other processors’, which may go hours in transit before it’s chilled. Political protests have interrupted project activities for the past few weeks (we’re safe, don’t worry) so this will be my first opportunity to meet Bangladeshi farmers—and to try some local yogurt!

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