Monday, May 09, 2016

PHILANTHROPY - Howard Buffett, Feed the World

"How farmer-philanthropist Howard Buffett is planting hope in Africa" PBS NewsHour 5/2/2016


SUMMARY:  Howard Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett, has an ambitious life goal: ending world hunger.  As a farmer and philanthropist, his focus is on reviving African agriculture, which has suffered massive production failures.  In collaboration with The Atlantic, Judy Woodruff charts Buffett’s efforts to boost food security for billions.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Africa has vast agricultural potential, yet, over the past half-century, its per capita food production has declined drastically.  In fact, it’s gone from being a net food exporter to now importing much of its food.

The reasons are complex, but they include rapid population growth, political strife and weak institutions.

As part of our ongoing collaboration with The Atlantic, we profile an American farmer and philanthropist who has made it his mission to reverse the trend in Africa.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Howard Buffett is a serious farmer.  He is a conservationist, intent on finding better, more sustainable ways to grow food.

And he is a teacher, sharing what he knows with farmers in Africa, giving them tools to better feed their people.

HOWARD G. BUFFETT, Philanthropist:  This is all going to take nutrients out of the soil.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  He is also a man with a lot of money to spend on making those things happen.

It’s been described that one of your goals or your main goal is ending world hunger.

HOWARD G. BUFFETT:  Well, you got to have a goal.


HOWARD G. BUFFETT:  But we’re not going to end world hunger, but, you know, I think every step we can take in that direction is something positive.

Just slam it.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  You just slam it?

HOWARD G. BUFFETT:  Hard.  There.  You got it.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, now, what do you call this machine again?

HOWARD G. BUFFETT:  8225-R John Deere.  It’s a tractor.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Howard Buffett loves his toys.

HOWARD G. BUFFETT:  My mom always told me I didn’t have enough Tonka toys when I grew up, so I think I have them now.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Mom would be the late Susan Buffett, who died in 2004.  And dad, you guessed it, is Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men.

You grew up in Nebraska.  What was it like?  I mean, what do you remember about being in this family?

HOWARD G. BUFFETT:  I think people think it was different because of my dad.

And the truth is, when I was growing up, my dad wasn’t well-known at all.  We grew up in a very normal environment, went to public schools, walked down to the bus stop and went to school.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  At the same time, your dad — because of your dad’s success, you were leading a pretty comfortable upbringing.

HOWARD G. BUFFETT:  Oh, we didn’t have to worry about anything.  And we were always told that, if we wanted to go to college, it would be paid for, if we wanted to go to medical school, it would be paid for, which is kind of funny, because none of the three of us actually finished college.  We all started, but we never quite made it all the way through.

I just had a hard time adjusting in college.  So I went out and I bought a bulldozer, and I started building terraces on farm ground and taking out trees and building basements.  And it was something I always wanted to do, so I went out and did it.

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