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Howard Buffett’s Hope for Africa’s Future

Posted on Aug 17, 2011
Flickr / Gates Foundation

Women tend to a crop of sweet potatoes in rural Tanzania.

Earlier this month, Howard Buffett—the philanthropist son of the “Sage of Omaha”—penned a Huffington Post article defending a project within the U.N.’s World Food Program called “Purchase for Progress” and offered his vision of an ideal future for farmers in the global south.

Rather than feeding the world’s hungry with food purchased from U.S. and European agriculturalists, that program nobly does business with farmers in developing nations, stimulating needy economies and providing food to hungry people at the same time. But its long-term goal, according to Buffett, is to give those farmers the education and training necessary to become permanent suppliers to the giants of global agribusiness—corporations that deal in industrialized, market-selected commodity crops, rather than the simple staple foods people need to feed themselves. —ARK

Mother Jones:

US shipping interests have lashed out at Purchase for Progress on the grounds that it cuts them—as well as large US grain traders like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill—out of the (quite profitable) supply chain for food aid. The argument is monstrous; it’s short form might read: “We transnational corporations demand a cut of the money intended to alleviate the hunger of desperately poor people.”

So here’s Buffett’s response to the shipping industry’s demand for its cut of the aid action:

[Purchase for Progress] provides training, access to credit and market access for poor farmers. The objective is to use WFP’s buying power as an interim step. It is expected that farmers will eventually forgo sales to WFP and in the future sell to companies who operate in their country like ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Maseca [the Mexican corn-flour giant part-owned by ADM], or Tiger brands. Once these farmers learn about contracts, quality requirements and delivery obligations while building a credit rating, they have found a permanent way out of poverty. They can eat three meals a day and send their children to school.

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By ardee, August 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

kerryrose, August 18 at 12:38 pm
OK read the link. So Buffet junior thinks in capitalist terms, no surprise there I think. Meanwhile he is doing a deal of good for those destitute farmers dontcha agree?

The future is yet to be written while people starve in the present. Buffet the younger is teaching them to feed themselves while circumventing the ADM’s and the like, just the fact that they are so dead set against his work makes me a supporter of his concept. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

If, in the course of future events these little farmers begin to do as Mother Jones envisions, my opinion would change, if I am still alive to offer one that is. In the mean time critiquing Buffet’s work is to ignore the real good and those who would die of starvation in the meanwhile.

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By kerryrose, August 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

Here is a link for the guys who didn’t read this article carefully enough.

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By kerryrose, August 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

For those of you praising Buffet:

You had better follow the link and read the entire article.

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By ardee, August 18, 2011 at 2:43 am Link to this comment

Daye, August 17 at 3:45 pm

It is refreshing to read a positive comment regarding anyone named Buffet ( Jimmy excepted) around here. One usually finds some sort of knee jerk negativity regarding any charitable act by this family.

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By kerryrose, August 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

The term for this is simple.  It is ‘land grab.’

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By Daye, August 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

I side fully with this article’s author, & having
lived where I watched suddenly industrialized
farming being imposed upon peasants by
American interests, money & power I must go
one step further, & insist that the evil likely to
come from this brutal worship of market
‘efficiency’ & mightiness & the inevitably
consequent distribution of newly created wealth
upwards to the rich - as opposed to respect for
people who will be driven into degradation &
starvation as their means of survival in ancient
labor intensive economies is taken away from
them by market dogma & machines - is a form
of holocaust-by-hypocrisy, in which capitalist
murderers & torturers conduct mass destruction
under the guise that they are Saviors, come to
deliver all persons below them from savagery &

Long live the Buffetts & the Gates.

And long live Cecil John Rhodes, for he was no

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