Bühler joins growing Africa assistance initiative

by Josh Sosland
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UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — Bühler is partnering with Cargill, General Mills, Inc. and Royal DSM in Partners in Food Solutions, a non-profit collaboration aimed at combating hunger by helping small and growing food processors and millers in African developing countries.

Working in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development and TechnoServe, Partners in Food Solutions is working to bring technical and business expertise as well as other company resources through voluntary employee missions.

With an objective of improving food security in the target countries, P.F.S. presently is working in Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi and Ethiopia.

“Rather than simply sending technical staff to Africa, P.F.S. is relying on a sustainable knowledge transfer system on the basis of personal employee missions of the companies involved,” Bühler said. “On the one hand, P.F.S. is working closely with TechnoServe, which offers in-depth country knowledge that helps make for successful on-the-ground program implementation. The second experienced cooperation partner, USAID, helps shape and guide P.F.S. by sharing strengths, experiences, methodologies, and resources through a public private partnership formed in 2010.”

TechnoServe is a Washington-based non-governmental organization that works to help individuals in developing nations build competitive enterprises, including farms and businesses.

“This alliance to which Bühler has now been added strengthens and expands our base of knowledge, deepens our expertise, and ultimately moves us much closer to our goal of helping more than 500 Africa-based food processors,” said Jeff Dykstra, chief executive officer of P.F.S. “P.F.S.’s unique consortium of world-class industry players connecting their employee expertise with small and growing food companies has the power to improve the whole food sector in Africa and beyond.”

Ian Roberts, chief technology officer of Bühler, added, “The P.F.S. business model fits perfectly with our culture of commitment to improve the food chain. The over 150-year history of Bühler as a leading supplier of capital equipment to the food industry can now be made available by P.F.S. to the small and growing food companies throughout Africa. We think this is a perfect opportunity for us to use our core competencies for improving food security in Africa.”

Bühler described the track record of P.F.S. as “second to none.” The group was established in 2009 by General Mills as an employee-volunteer initiative.

“To date, the organization has worked with some 300 companies in the target countries,” Bühler said. “Its projects have involved more than 131,000 local smallholder farmers who in turn support an estimated 786,000 family members. The three existing corporate partners — General Mills, Cargill, and Royal DSM of The Netherlands — have provided nearly 500 skilled employees, who have volunteered more than 40,000 hours on more than 150 individual projects. Bühler’s contribution of experts will substantially enrich this bench of talent.”

According to Bühler, P.F.S. plans to broaden its work over the next five years to include as many as 10 corporate partners and 500 food processors in Africa, who, in turn, purchase from more than 500,000 smallholder growers in 12 African nations.

“Ultimately, this will benefit millions of consumers,” Bühler said.

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