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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs