Major U.S. agricultural companies like DuPont, Monsanto, and Cargill recently announced that they were joining aid efforts in Africa alongside major U.S. nonprofits and government organizations.
The three farm giants pledged $150 million to an international goal of $3 billion in aid to African farmers. The relief effort was largely motivated by United Nations reports suggesting that the world would need about 50 percent more food produced within the next 17 years in order to feed the growing global population. Without this commitment, nearly 3 billion people could be doomed to hunger and poverty over the next 20 years.
In addition to meeting important philanthropic goals, U.S. companies report major profit potential in African investments. According to the DuPont Executive Vice President, “There are all sorts of issues around the countries in Africa. But the population, the economic growth, the quality of many of the soils is there. The need is there, the potential is there.”
Many companies hope that a major investment now will help African countries develop their economies, transforming them into valuable trading partners and laying the foundation for multi-million dollar startup businesses.
Some poverty advocates, however, are wary of major agribusiness investment. According to the executive director of the Oakland Institute, an agricultural policy think-tank, “Who does it benefit? All of these things are supporting the formation of large-scale commercial agriculture, which will hurt small farmers. They could spend far less but focus on providing credit facilities, ensuring open markets and ensuring the rights of small holder farmers.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer