News / Africa

    Businesses Look for Profit in US Development Aid

    Obama encourages private companies to help spur economic growth

    A partnership including the U.S. government, TechnoServe, and Cargill helped transform the poultry industry in Mozambique.
    A partnership including the U.S. government, TechnoServe, and Cargill helped transform the poultry industry in Mozambique.

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Private businesses are being encouraged to assume a greater role in development efforts as part of the Obama administration's agricultural development initiative.

    Food prices are at record highs, and experts are sounding alarms about the potential for civil unrest. The Obama administration has made improving developing world food security an important foreign policy goal.

    But rather than relying solely on governments and civil society groups as in the past, the administration is highlighting the role the profit motive can play in economic development.

    Mozambique's poultry boom

    At a recent congressional briefing, the growth of Mozambique's poultry industry was cited as one example.

    Until recently, domestic poultry farmers were unable to compete with imports.

    Mozambican poultry farmer Derek Xavier says part of the reason was the way farmers raised their birds.

    "We just used to have them at home," he says. "We had no medication, no vaccination. And obviously, with no good treatment, the chickens are always thin, and no good meat."

    It did not help that foreign producers were using Mozambique as a market of last resort to dump nearly spoiled chicken.

    Industry overhaul

    That all started to change in 2005. An industry transformation began with help from the U.S. government, the business-focused development group TechnoServe, and the U.S. agribusiness giant, Cargill.  

    Mozambican farmers were organized. Vaccination, education, and disease monitoring programs were developed. Trade regulations were changed to prevent import dumping.

    The overhaus brought about dramatic changes, according to Florencia Cipriano, chief veterinarian for the Mozambique government. She told the briefing that in 2005, domestic producers raised only a third of the broiler chickens sold.

    "Today," she said, "Mozambique broilers outnumber imports three to one."

    Feeding all those chickens has also spurred a roughly four-fold growth in the domestic feed grain industry, she says. Cipriano credits the chicken boom with creating about 90,000 jobs, and helping tens of thousands of small farmers improve their incomes.

    Business meets development aid

    "We want to work more with the private sector than we have in the past," said Gregory Gottlieb, head of the food security bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development. "This time around, I think we want to look more at economic growth. Real economic growth."

    Gottlieb told the briefing that real economic growth comes from focusing on the profit motive for everyone from farmers and their suppliers to retailers who sell their products, and the partnership with Cargill and TechnoServe is a good example.

    Profit is the reason Cargill gets involved in development, says the company's director of international business relations, Devry Boughner.

    "That's not a bad thing in our mind," she says. "Because as we make profits in these countries and invest overseas, we're able to re-invest and re-partner and re-up our commitment to global food security."

    Aid budget cuts loom

    But the Obama administration's commitment to global food security faces a challenge as lawmakers consider the next federal budget. The administration dramatically increased funding for agricultural development with a three-point-five billion dollar initiative known as "Feed the Future."

    But with U.S. unemployment at 9 percent and a $14 trillion national debt, Republicans took over the House of Representatives this fall pledging to cut federal spending.

    "Moral arguments aside, we must stop sending hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign governments when our own economy is in shambles," says Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

    Paul is widely considered to be outside the political mainstream on most issues.  But a recent Gallup poll found nearly 60 percent of Americans favor cutting foreign aid.

    Business case for aid

    At the congressional briefing, Cargill's Devry Boughner  made the business case that aid is in the company's and the country's long-term interest. Look at South Korea, she said. It took time, but development aid turned that country into an economic powerhouse and a market for U.S. goods.

    "We're now looking to take this relationship to stronger commercial ties, which will translate to stronger economic growth here in the United States," she added.

    A big free trade agreement with South Korea is currently before the Senate that backers say will create jobs in the U.S. In the long run, Boughner says, when private businesses can help transform industries, as Cargill helped to do in Mozambique, aid can become trade and provide a valuable return on investments.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.