Friday, May 29, 2009

Disaster Capitalism (Hunger Division)

A 21st Century a scramble for Africa:

Poor countries in Africa (e.g. Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali and Sudan) are leasing their land to Western corporations and semi-governmental agencies to provide food to countries outside that Continent.

Today, there's a news item in nrc/international about a pilot project fighting
the 'hidden hunger' in Africa. What's surprising is the companies involved don't even try to spin it as a solely magnanimous gesture. It's a well-crafted scheme to win hearts and minds - and future markets - in some of the same countries that are leasing their lands.
[Emphasis mine.]
A collaboration between the Dutch ministry of development aid, the agricultural university in Wageningen and a couple of multinationals aims to add vitamins and minerals to the diet of those who need it most. Their aim is not entirely philanthropic, the companies also hope to secure their future markets.

According to the World Health Organisation, 963 million people do not have enough to eat and an estimated 2 billion people are affected by iron deficiency, the most prevalent form of malnutrition worldwide. [...]

DSM, a Delft-based food company; Unilever, the multinational consumer product maker, and paint and chemical producer Akzo Nobel want to combine the knowledge and networks of industry, science and government to improve the nutrition of African children. [...]

Are the multinationals simply trying to polish up their image? "This is not charity," says Unilever's Global Health Partnerships director Paulus Verschuren. "It is about the added value to both society and our company. You need a functioning society if you want to set up a healthy business. By fighting malnutrition now we hope to secure our future markets."

DSM too sees business opportunities in fighting malnutrition. The company is developing so-called NutriRice, nutritionally enriched rice. It uses broken grains of rice - usually residuary - which it then crushes and mixes with vitamins and minerals. The pulp is then manufactured into rice grains again and blended back in with the normal rice.

NutriRice has been tested among high school students in China and was "a great success" according to Adade.
(Cross-posted at Antemedius.)

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