Howard Buffett may be a son of one of the world’s richest men, but he’s spent most of his life learning how to successfully farm. Now, equipped with wisdom gained through trial, error, and education, he is attempting to combine his agricultural skills with his father’s wealth to end world hunger.
As you may remember, Warren Buffett – one of the richest men in America – made history when he gave away the largest ever philanthropic gift, $37 billion, to charity ten years ago. He did this in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates, creating The Giving Pledge which urges the affluent to give away their fortunes. Part of his charitable donation went to set up foundations headed by each of his three children – Susie, Howard, and Peter.
According to The Atlantic, each of the children used their portions in unique ways. Susie’s foundation helps children and promotes women’s health, whereas Peter’s foundation seeks to end discrimination and poverty among young girls. Howard is using his father’s investment to end world hunger.
In Howard’s 2013 best-selling book, “40 Chances: Finding Hope In A Hungry World,” he explains his vision. While the social entrepreneur is quick to admit he does not have all the answers, he is certain that governments and NGOs have been going about it all wrong.
For example, the farmer believes there is a better way to combat deforestation and rebuild regions’ agriculture than relying on technology, including improved seeds and fertilizer. Because the “Green Revolution” helped transform the Indian subcontinent from bordering on famine to a grain-producing powerhouse in the 1960s, Howard believes the revolutionary approach can be improved and implemented elsewhere.
Mr. Buffett intends to start in locations like sub-Saharan Africa where the droughts are extended and the uncompromising weather has wrecked growing seasons. By partnering with other foundations and corporations that promote no-till farming and provide loan guarantees for local seed companies across the continent, he can ensure that people receive the assistance they need to implement the foundation’s teachings.
“I’m a farmer. I know what I can get from improved seed. I know what I get from fertilizer. They’re huge. But technology can’t build organic matter. It can’t create topsoil. It can’t magically protect water quality. It’s a quick fix, and Africa needs a long-term solution.”
The Howard Buffett Foundation‘s “Brown Revolution” method focuses on creating sustainable farms that prevent erosion, preserve topsoil, and regenerate farmland. The process is much slower than the seemingly overnight success of India in the sixties, but the investment of time and resources will help restore the soil, as seeds and fertilizer won’t be enough.
Howard Buffett presently spends a large portion of his time traveling the world, living and working among poverty and hunger. His foundation is working in 154 different countries and is solely focused on ending world hunger. Howard has been to all 84 nations in Africa on his fact-finding trips and operates four research farms in South Africa where his theories are tested.
This is a great example of how inspired individuals can use money to enact positive change.
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