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DSM sharing its nutritional expertise in impoverished nations

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DSM, a $12 billion life sciences company with New Jersey operations in Belvidere and Parsippany, is best known for producing vitamins and micronutrients.

But it’s also doing things to alleviate global hunger and nutrition deficiency, though not limited to the standard philanthropic way of cash donations. Instead, DSM lends expertise to places as far reaching as small farm businesses in Rwanda.

“It’s not about sending money, it’s about sending information,” DSM President Hugh Welsh said. “It’s an entirely new model of giving where we’re giving information, transferring knowledge, rather than money.”

DSM renewed its commitment on Wednesday — also World Food Day, a global movement to end hunger and improve food sustainability. More than just altruism, Welsh said DSM aims to strengthen the global economic climate in which the companies operate.

For example, DSM employees work with subsistence farmers in Africa to help prevent crops from spoilage. Welsh said the effort is needed because many African farmers lack access to infrastructure and economies of scale to sell their products to larger markets.

Welsh said DSM employees communicate via Skype from their desk with food processors in Rwanda on how to improve farm equipment, with a big-picture focus on increasing profits and create better and more nutritious foods.

 “We like to think that it creates a virtuous cycle because it affords the small holder farmers” a chance to prosper, Welsh said.

Other efforts include fortifying rice kernels with Vitamin A — an inexpensive process that can reduce blindness. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness in children.

DSM participates in Partners in Food Solutions, a nonprofit group also consisting of General Mills, Cargill and Buehler, who lend expertise to resolve food and nutritional problems.

On Wednesday, the company invited Partners in Food Solutions President Jeff Dykstra to DSM’s Parsippany facility to address employees in recognition of World Food Day. Welsh said the program boosts employee morale and retention, as they know they’re are part of something larger.

“Then it’s about channeling that passion to find sustainable solutions,” Welsh said. “You can imagine firing up employees about the issue.”

The Dutch company employs 710 in New Jersey, about two-thirds in Parsippany and the rest in Belvidere.

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