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This post originally appeared on Lillypad, the blog of Eli Lilly and Comapny. Author Mitch Davis is director of Elanco’s Global Shared Value program. Elanco is the animal health division of Eli Lilly. He oversees community engagement and partnerships with an eye toward improving people’s lives through animals. Elanco is currently supporting the East Africa Dairy Development project in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, among other Heifer projects.

This week, I’m in Africa—Tanzania at the moment. As you arrive here, the bright burnt-orange sun on the horizon paints a picture in your mind. It's as distinct and unforgettable as the engaging people who you meet along the way. My colleagues and I are traveling with Heifer International and other organizations this week to help advance the East Africa Dairy Development program, or EADD.

This project, which will bring sustainable livelihoods to people across East Africa, is important because many of those living on close to $1 per day in sub-Saharan Africa depend on their livestock to provide nearly half of the family’s income. So increasing milk production and improving access to markets is paramount to keeping families fed and thriving.

Elanco dairy experts have volunteered their time to travel with Heifer and EADD representatives to visit participant farmers and support organizations in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda in the days ahead. Our goal, together with the EADD teams, is to identify where we can have the greatest impact on the success of the program. Things like milking schedules, cow comfort, and care practices—all of this can result in each cow producing more quality milk for the farmers each day. By having this experienced team with us, we’re able to more deeply engage these farmers and uncover critical details that should help increase success of the overall project.

As we began visiting farms and communities near Mbeya, one thing started to shine through with great clarity. These farmers and community leaders are passionate, talented, and committed people. They want to learn ways to grow their farms and create sustainable livelihoods for their families and their communities. One couple we spent time with used skills they learned to help them decide to switch from a coffee crop on part of their land to growing high-quality, nutrient-rich feed. This has ultimately helped them increase the production of their cows.

With Elanco’s commitment to ensuring there will be enough food for our growing global population, organizations like Heifer and the EADD project are critical partners. It’s in collaborations like this where we can directly use our talents to make a sustainable difference. The global population will grow to an estimated nine billion people by 2050. So the success of this project—and ultimately the farmers who will efficiently produce their food—is both urgent and important.

Learn more about the issue of food security and what you can do to join the fight for a food-secure tomorrow by