Going to class with rural farmers in Poland
Nutrena College provides ideas, tools for small agricultural businesses
June 20, 2016
Their days begin bright and early, and a 5 a.m. start is the norm. They tend to their cows with pride, but their days also are filled with meetings with fellow rural professionals, purchasing, planning and overall management of their farms. Of course, there’s also the noble task of feeding their families and their community.
These are the farmers that are at the heart and soul of the agricultural industry. And our ability to feed the world’s growing population in a sustainable way will depend on them.
Back in 2007, Cargill Feed & Nutrition partnered with a rural development institution in Poland, The Center for Business Promotion and Entrepreneurship (OPiWPR), to develop a training program for smallholder farmers. Named Nutrena College after Cargill’s brand of animal feed, the training provides Polish farmers with the knowledge, skills and support they need to increase the productivity and profitability of their farms in order to maximize their yields, profits and incomes.
Nutrena College’s “student body” is made up of small agricultural business owners – those who have ten employees at most or are self-employed – as well as farmers, technicians, veterinarians and professionals of the Polish Dairy Federation.
The curriculum is made up of training modules that include business skills like employee motivation, effective management and sales skills, as well as technical courses like calf rearing, nutrition for dairy cows, milk quality, pork reproduction and piglet raising. And they’re all taught by employees in Cargill’s animal nutrition business.
The training courses have also provided an opportunity for farmers to meet and exchange ideas, not only on the nutrition and housing of animals, but also on economic issues facing the agricultural sector in Poland.
But don’t take the company’s word for it – hear from the farmers themselves.
Grzegorz Stasiak, a dairy farmer, shared his story. “I find that there is never enough knowledge. At these kinds of trainings you are able to receive some valuable information. It is a great opportunity to get some advice.”
Wojciech Kubaczyk, also a dairy farmer, agrees. “The topics discussed during the training encouraged me to change the nutrition of my cattle.” Now Wojciech has transitioned from traditional feeding to total mixed ration (TMR) with great success.
Now, almost 10 years later, more than USD $700,000 in funding and more than 12,000 participants trained across five regions in Poland, Nutrena College keeps growing. In 2013, Cargill tacked on another training program which, like Nutrena College, supplies farmers with the tools they need to run small agricultural businesses. And in 2015, Cargill College was created to help business-to-business farmers improve their profitability with new technologies, better nutrition, management and efficiency.
“The creation of all three training programs allows us to reach all farmers, ranging from small-business owners to huge breeding businesses,” said Bogdan Kajkowski, business to consumer sales leader for Cargill’s animal nutrition business in Poland.
The Nutrena College program is just one example of Cargill’s ongoing investment in helping farmers thrive in the communities where its employees live and work.
Cargill’s involvement in these activities not only boosts rural families’ incomes and living standards, but it also helps to improve the quality of local agriculture, and develops infrastructure and operating facilities that strengthen the local economic base.
“These programs have allowed us to demonstrate to our customers and our communities what it truly means to be customer focused,” said Blain Blackburn, managing director for Cargill’s animal nutrition business in Poland. “Our customers are the reason we are in business and helping them succeed in their businesses helps us succeed in ours.”