USAID Supports Private Agricultural Business Development
Soyuz Invest Stroi (SIS), a private Belarusian agricultural consulting and facility design firm, has dramatically increased its operations over the past three years due to support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Belarus Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF) program. Thanks to the USAID FTF program, which supports the development of an efficient and effective private agricultural sector in Belarus, SIS increased its client base and supplier networks by 40 percent and its income by nearly 12 per cent.
The Belarus Citizen’s Network for Foreign Affairs office, a local implementer of the USAID FTF program, brought two American agricultural specialists to Belarus in 2009 and 2010 on volunteer assignments to assist SIS in its consultation and livestock housing design services.
The American specialists provided specific recommendations on facility maintenance, ranging from barn design to improved ventilation systems for summer conditions. They trained SIS employees on ways to improve cow comfort and labor efficiency, and introduced efficient management strategies for beef production, including winter and feedlot housing systems, genetics and nutrition. They also shared their expertise in sorting, handling and loading beef cattle.
Following the specialist assignments, SIS Director Alexander German traveled to the U.S. on a study tour to attend the World Dairy Exposition, furthering the skills he gained through the USAID FTF program. Mr. German visited several working dairy farms and research facilities, and observed advanced livestock and dairy facility designs.
SIS continues to grow, reinvesting its increased income back into the company and the community, expanding employment and increasing average employee wages. The company’s innovation has spread to clients in Russia and Kazakhstan and Belarusian experts have acknowledged the benefits of U.S. assistance in SIS’s success. Mr. German agrees, "Our company continues to grow – especially our client base and the number of our employees. We are getting closer to our goal of becoming the best dairy design firm."