Assisting 200 million-plus people in Africa who are food insecure is part of Dow AgroSciences’ comprehensive food insecurity initiative. A cornerstone of this initiative was announced as Dow AgroSciences and AMPATH, an Indiana University-led consortium, revealed a collaboration that is now in place to fight hunger in Africa by providing local farmers with agricultural knowledge intended to improve their crop yields and ultimately quality of life. Expertise is essential for sustainable change and Dow AgroSciences, as a leading plant science company, is sending employees to Kenya for six-month assignments to work alongside AMPATH to enable agricultural progress in the region.
LaRon Beemer, a Brownsburg, Ind., resident and finance manager at Dow AgroSciences, will be the first employee to work in Kenya on assignment, engaging with AMPATH and the local agricultural community to learn about agricultural practices and generate ideas about improving local food security. Beemer will interact with area farmers and potential food chain partners to share information about vital components of modern agriculture and commercial development practices.
Beemer, who grew up on a farm in Missouri and holds an MBA, can help provide insight into agricultural techniques, industry knowledge and agricultural marketing, as well as how to promote and sell produce for a fair market price.
“Dow AgroSciences employees are passionate about how our company’s innovative thinking can impact the world, and our work with AMPATH provides a tangible way to directly address persistent hunger problems,” said Gordon Slack, Global Leader, Finance and Public Affairs, Dow AgroSciences. “Education is the single most important asset that can be developed to advance food security. LaRon is a great example of how our employees bring a variety of skill sets and knowledge that can make a real difference.”
AMPATH was an ideal partner for this outreach program due to its extensive work and expertise providing holistic healthcare services in Kenya. The organization is a partnership between Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and a consortium of North American academic health centers led by the Indiana University School of Medicine and works together with the Government of Kenya. Because of its commitment to initiating sustainable, locally led programs, AMPATH now engages Kenyan farmers to produce food for its patients and local communities and has called on Dow AgroSciences to help with this initiative.
“Assuring food security is a critical part of managing the health of a resource-limited population. We are thrilled that Dow AgroSciences is joining forces with Indiana University, Purdue University, and our Kenyan and North American partners to help us address this important issue,” said Robert Einterz, M.D., Executive Director of the AMPATH Consortium.
The role of agriculture in health and food security has been on Beemer’s mind for decades. While his career took a corporate path, his passion for Africa and agricultural development continued to grow. “We all see stories and pictures about hunger in the news, yet as I started looking beyond the headlines, I found real people with real issues and needs,” said Beemer, who visited Africa last year. “I get more excited every time I visit with the people from AMPATH as they are a great organization to collaborate with and learn from in this space. Dow AgroSciences’ commitment is equally outstanding, and I’m honored to be part of this effort.”
Beemer will be located in Kenya from mid-May until mid-November working to identify areas of need and networking with Dow AgroSciences subject matter experts around the world to develop sustainable solutions. In early November, another Dow AgroSciences employee will join Beemer in Kenya to start the transition as Beemer completes his six-month assignment. Other Dow AgroSciences employees will travel to Kenya for brief periods of time as expertise is needed.
“Our employees have so much passion for fighting world hunger, and this collaboration opens great doors of promise and possibility through modern agriculture,” Slack said. “No parent wants to have to make the choice between food or school for a child, and the work we are doing can change lives.”