When a small dairy farmer in Bangladesh needs medical advice concerning his cows, or strategic planning tips to make his farm more profitable, help is at his fingertips. He can connect with some of the best and brightest experts from around the globe, anytime.
However, getting assistance wasn’t always this easy.
The Tetra Laval Group has been helping small dairy farmers globally for years. The group consists of three companies—Tetra Pak, Sidel, and DeLaval. All are focused on technologies for the efficient production, processing, and packaging of food.
Within the Tetra Laval Group, Tetra Pak and Tetra Laval Food for Development team collaborate to develop local dairy industries, assisting with collection infrastructure and supplier management. The Tetra Laval Food for Development team also works with smallholder farmers to improve their animal health, milk yields, and farm profitability.
In the past, much of their work with farmers—meetings, collaboration, and education—took place in person.
“Before the pandemic, half my time was spent traveling,” says Romulo Alvarado, Project Manager at Tetra Laval Food for Development. “It is important we look our partners in the eye. We have to develop a trusted relationship.”
Today, that face-to-face, eye-to-eye interaction still takes place, but because of the pandemic and the massive shift to virtual communication many of those meetings now take place remotely.
“We needed to continue our training sessions and we had to find a way that would work for us,” says Alvarado, Project Manager of Food for Development at Tetra Laval. “This has involved working directly with Cisco to utilize Webex for our specific global training needs.”
Previously, meetings took place about once every three months. Tetra Laval needed a way to streamline the process; to meet more often; and have fast, easy, and effective ways to engage.
“The beauty of the approach with Webex is that we can bring more people together, from different parts of the world, on the same meeting,” Alvarado says.
There is the obvious benefit in time savings, as well as significant enhancements in collaboration. “We now have an environment where more people can share ideas, experience and insight, and learn from each other,” Alvarado adds.
Bringing famers and experts together from a wide variety of cultures, who speak several different languages is now seamless with Webex real-time translation. Attendees can instantly translate the meeting conversation to one of more than 100 different languages.
Several other Webex features also help ensure an equal experience for all participants, regardless of geography, language, or communication style. It includes gesture recognition, noise reduction, custom layouts, and automatic transcription. Meeting content can be recorded and shared internally with those who missed the session.
This has provided incredible value in breaking down barriers. Dairy farm advisors from around the globe can ask a question during a meeting, and have the answer translated in real-time to local languages, which helps drive engagement. “Participants are more confident in taking part in the sessions, not simply sitting and listening,” Alvarado says.
Relationship building remains at the core of training and community engagement for the Tetra Laval Food for Development team. The expectation is that travel will resume when appropriate, but the future will include a blend of in-person and remote engagement—a hybrid workflow.
“We’ve built our reputation on years of face-to-face engagement, and of listening to the reality on the ground,” McDonald says. “More conversations mean more engagement, which means we collaborate and learn more. The necessity to work differently has been a hugely important time for the program. We’ve come out of it stronger.”