Yara: Make a business case for development

How does the world’s largest producer of mineral fertilizer fit helping African smallholder farmers into its business model?

By making a case for development and integrating it into the company’s overall strategy, according to Yara President and CEO Jørgen Ole Haslestad, who sat down with Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar for a video interview at the European Development Days in Brussels.

“[Development] has to be integrated into the business. If it’s just a program, it’s like how aid was in the old days. When we [get involved], we make a business case for it,” Haslestad said. “It is brought into the business, and the business is driving it.”

He commented: “Will we see the benefit from it? Probably it will take a longer time than other businesses, but it is a good development.”

The head of Yara also gave the example of his firm’s ongoing collaboration with EuropeAid to illustrate how important it is for public institutions to work with the private sector.

“In the old days, governments were afraid to work with industry because they thought we just wanted maximum profit and [had] no interest in sustainable development,” Haslestad noted, adding that “it’s about profit, but also the ability to bring things forward” and donors now understand the only way to achieve progress is by joining hands with the private sector — to which, he pointed out, African smallholder farmers belong.

Click on the above video for more insights from the Yara CEO on why creating infrastructure is essential for agricultural development to truly happen in Africa.

Devex was at the European Development Days 2013. Check out our coverage of Europe’s leading global development event of the year.

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    Carlos Santamaria

    As associate editor for breaking news, Carlos Santamaria supervises Devex's Manila-based news team and the creation of our daily newsletter. Carlos joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.