“Tom: Thanks for your comment. If financial assistance gets away from big government and big NGOs where will the big money come from?”
TomMcDonough on May 27, 2010 at 17:45:55
“Dan: I wasn't suggesting that the US govt or the UN stop funding, but that "country-led" not begin and end with the Ministry of Agriculture and folks in the capital. I'm working on some ideas to give the Soil Science Society of Nigeria more exposure and bolster their reputation. Let's see how it plays out over the next few years. By the way, were you able to visit my website, www.nexgenagro.com?”
Apparently I didn't make it clear enough in my text to address your concern about domestic hunger. The Auburn hunger program began as a student-led initiative to support the work of the World Food Programme, but, because it is a land grant university, Dean Henton realized they had to build a domestic hunger element that would address hunger in AL.
Most of the schools involved with Universities Fighting World Hunger are state universities and land grant universities, so the domestic aspect of their hunger programs is considered very important.
But, there is a major difference between domestic and international initiatives to alleviate hunger: In this country there are safety nets. Food stamps, food banks, social service agencies, aid to women, infants, and children (WIC), school lunches, and so on. In the developing world this is nothing, gornischt, nada.
Here there is the possibility that political will can be influenced by an aroused constituency. Marching in the streets may eventually be necessary, but with people like Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Congresswoman Rosa DeLaura (D-CT), and others taking courageous stands in favor of people who lack food security it may be possible to affect public policy without civil disobedience.”
“My apologies for not responding sooner. I am generally familiar with the Nestle program for women farmers in Pakistan. If you scroll down through my earlier posts you will see the first one which was devoted to Nestle's Creating Shared Value program. Thanks for taking the time to comment.”
Your comment represents an important philosophical consideration about why to care about others when there is so much need here.
I certainly would never try to give a counter argument to addressing the issues that demand our attention in this country. But, here we have safety nets. After Katrina there was enough of a response by the combined federal and state governments to provide the basics: Truck loads of bottled water, the Superdome, makeshift housing of all sorts, the National Guard, and so on.
Every day children get a nutritious meal in school in every American city. We have food stamps, welfare payments, government agencies that help people.
In the developing world there are no safety nets. They need start-up funding to have any chance of surviving. You will see me refer repeatedly to what I call the upward economic cascade: Help lift them to the most basic definition of stability and they can: 1) send their kids to school, 2) improve their health, 3) do other things than scrounge around to find enough food to stay alive, 4) learn skills, 5) become community leaders and so on.
After less than one generation of uninterupted support there should be a resurgence of stability. That leads to democracy, stifles the instinct for terrorism, etc. They become consumers and American business loves nothing more than a consumer. Helping them is in our own best interest. See my previous column entitled "Growing Businesses in African Soil".”
Corruption is certainly an issue, but it is not really why experts believe that Africa continues to struggle with famine, etc. In an upcoming column I am going to write about how the collapse of wealthy nation funding triggered a downward spiral over the past 20 or 30 years.
Funding for small stakeholder agricultural development has proven to be an effective means of lifting impoverished people out of the grip of starvation. Doesn't make them rich, but it gives them enough support to achieve "food security" and to have a little extra to sell in the town square so that they can educate their children, improve their health, build stable communities, etc. It's what I call the upward economic cascade.
I am going to write at some point about where America ranks in terms of giving. We are at or near the bottom of wealthy nations. The statistics are disturbing. We may give the most in dollar terms, but as a percentage of our GDP it is disgraceful. Other countries with far less than we have give much more. Ironically, we are a people who have a history of helping, caring, nurturing. Yet, somehow our cultural instinct for helping gets filtered out of the funding process; or, worse, it gets co-opted by corporate manipulators who take too much of what we are willing to give and arrange for it to be used for their own needs in poor countries. Talk about corruption.”
msnaomicolb on Oct 3, 2009 at 01:10:05
“www.thp.org is one of the most strategic and effective organizations funding sustainable development in Africa.
This organization provides agricultural, leadership and business training for the women farmers who grow most of Africa's food.”
Flavor on Oct 1, 2009 at 08:08:46
“Mr. Silverstein my heart tells me you are a good man, and you care whatever flavor can do to donate & help any organization for helping humanity that your in, please let me know I will help you, you care it shows. God Bless You,”
“I told you I would find experts to respond to your categorical dismissal of GMOs and here is the first of them. I suggest you read about Africa Harvest;s committment to participating in the fight to end chronic hunger on their website at: http://africaharvest.org/technologies
Your condemnation is not supported by factual testing and data that indicates GMO technology may hold the key to producing enough incremental crop yield to lift many impoverished people at least to the level of food security.”
“Your passion is admirable, but your categorical dismissal of GMOs leaves a lot to be desired. I'm going to check with some people who are far more astute in this field than I, but in the interim let me excerpt for you a section of an Inter Press News Service story that appears on the AGRA website:
"Bill Gates, whose foundation supports AGRA, also funds several other agricultural initiatives in Africa developing GM crops. AGRA falls under the Gates Foundation's Global Development Program, whose senior programme officer is Dr. Robert Horsch - an employee of biotech giant Monsanto for 25 years and part of a team that developed Roundup Ready GM crops.
"Earlier this year, alarm bells were raised in the anti-GM camp when AGRA signed a five-year agreement with the Earth Institute at New York's Columbia University, which is headed by Jeff Sachs, an outspoken and avid supporter of GMOs.
"Although AGRA claims that it does not make use of GMO seed, it is careful not to take a principled position on this contentious topic, thus leaving the door open to incorporate these into the plan at some future stage", says Siviwe Mdoda, coordinator of TCOE’s Land Rights Programme.
In my blog comment I didn't go into the substance of the sessions, but they were as intellectually stimulating as any meeting I have ever been to; comprised of panel discussions which drew the participation of leading experts from thoughout the world in various nutritional disciplines.
With the chairman, president and vice president of public affairs of Nestle sitting in the front row the panelists talked frankly about such things as the difficulty in marketing food that (in this order) A) doesn't kill you, B) won't shorten your lifespan, C) is nutritious enough to not be considered empty calories, and D) tastes good enough so it would actually be purchased. Nestle didn't win every one of the heated exchanges, but it was clear that the message was getting through.
During a break I walked over to one of the Harvard professors who collaborated over several years with Mr. Brabeck in developing the idea of creating shared value. He was dressed in faded black jeans, an open shirt and running shoes. Just to be a smart ass I asked him "Why are you dressed like that?" "Because I can," was all he said, and we both laughed. This isn't a guy who shills for anyone.
If this was some kind of ruse, or if Nestle has been gaming the UN Global Compact statistics they're very good at it. And the people running the UNGC are very stupid.”