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I am the impassioned pundit at I have long studied and written about hunger, as it killed some members of my family (a generation before me). Currently I am dedicating much of my life to convincing people that hunger can be abolished this year. A relatively small... More
My blog:
Why is there Still Hunger?
  • An End To Hunger Worldwide Is Within Easy Reach. Will Whole Foods Or Tesla Lead The Effort? 1 comment
    Jul 20, 2014 5:35 PM | about stocks: WFM, TSLA, SCTY, SUNEQ, JKS, S, T, MON, ADM

    Seeking Alpha is about monetary profits, not nourishment deficits. In fact, there have been many more SA articles regarding The Hunger Games films than about hunger itself.

    Ultimately, though, the abolition of hunger will spur forth far more in corporate profits than Hollywood. After all, 842 million people rising out of hunger immediately double or triple their productivity and spending power.

    But do corporations worldwide dare invest in the abolition of hunger?

    As an investment, it's a no-brainer.

    China's meteoric economic growth out of the ashes of war and revolution was largely due to the policy of the "iron rice bowl," a guarantee of food security for all families. After basic human needs (food, housing, education) were met, free market reforms launched the Chinese economy skyward, and it is now the strongest engine of worldwide economic growth.

    Similarly, New Deal and Great Society programs offering food security to the vast majority of Americans unleashed vast reservoirs of creativity and productivity. So did post-war food programs in Europe and Japan. This is common sense. Nourished people are much more productive and open to education than weak, hungry people with sickly, stunted children.

    Undernourishment is costing the world up to 4.7% in economic growth each year, according to one FAO study. That loss in productivity is equivalent to $3.7 trillion.

    Abolishing hunger completely would cost an additional $30 billion per year, as calculated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 2008, amid worldwide food riots. There are actually fewer hungry people now, six years later, so the figure should be less than $30 billion. See my video on this topic here.

    Of course, if $30B were actually granted to the FAO (among others), the FAO programs would increase crop yields, preserve harvests from spoilage and infestation, and improve distribution. That $30 billion annual injection would steadily dwindle towards zero.

    As hungry people become more productive and create actual cash holdings, they would need less food aid.

    Bottom line: corporations and governments could invest tens of billions to increase worldwide GDP by trillions of dollars.

    Okay, what if corporations are not so ambitious? After all, the complete worldwide abolition of hunger is literally unprecedented. In 2012, the World Food Programme calculated that an investment of $3.2 billion would feed all the world's 66 million undernourished school-aged children.

    As an aside, the WFP's total budget is about $3.5 billion. With this tiny budget, they are tasked with feeding all the undernourished people in the world; of course, they fail every year. In contrast, the (very successful) food stamp program in the United States costs $76 billion. Can the world's corporations identify a bargain?

    Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and The Gates Foundation fame, declared on CNBC that by 2035 there would be few very poor nations. But why should we delay the party for over twenty years? Why not abolish hunger now and reap the profits?

    Why consciously extend the worst ongoing holocaust in human history? Despite the child mortality rate having been cut in half since 1990, nearly 3 million children die each year of hunger-related causes.

    The $30 billion annual investment represents 0.4% of US corporate profits. Repeat: 0.4% of U.S. corporate profits, not global corporate profits.

    The $30 billion needed represents only 0.8% of the wealth of the richest 300 people on Earth and only 0.4% of all billionaires' wealth.

    The $30B represents 0.06% of the liquid assets of High Net Worth Individuals.

    For someone with "only" one million in liquid assets, that's $600.

    How about eradicating hunger for all school-age children? That's only $3.2 billion, and it multiplies the value of these children as healthier, better-educated workers and consumers. Such an investment represents a commitment of only $60 for each millionaire.

    Corporations and the wealthy need not carry the whole load. Any corporate campaign to completely abolish hunger would inspire billions of people! Recall that when President John F. Kennedy proposed that the United States land a man on the moon, the idea was far more preposterous than abolishing hunger. And yet, that vision inspired millions to happily contribute to the effort.

    A billion people each giving $30 would end world hunger.

    Celebrities of all stripes, in all nations, would join a movement for complete abolition. Everyone from Oprah to Fergie to Bono to the Mandelas to Unicef ambassadors Jackie Chan, Leo Messi, Katie Perry, Ricky Martin, and David Beckham.

    Religious institutions like the Catholic Church, with its one billion strong membership, could contribute billions.

    The world's two-billion strong middle class could contribute tens of billions.

    Despite extreme pessimism about a phenomenon as old as time, most people get excited about a global transformation on par with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Who would profit most from an end to hunger? What do the lowest quintile wealth-bracket buy when they gain food security?

    They buy more food, for one thing. More fruits, vegetables, and animal products. While there may not be many corporate profits in urban slumdwellers buying carrots, hundreds of millions will begin buying processed foods.

    Some corporations, like Coca-cola (NYSE:KO), have successfully placed their products in the most impoverished regions of the world. In a recent interview with me, Nabeeha Kazi, CEO of the anti-hunger organization Humanitas Global, observed that some corporations market their goods in areas where even clean water is difficult to access. She pondered the possibilities of these corporations working with NGOs to help distribute food and information in a more efficient manner.

    Back to profits. Peasants with growing savings might buy fertilizer, seeds, farm implements, irrigation, or even a solar panel. The likes of Potash, Monsanto, and ADM may gain substantially from two billion peasants seeking to improve their diets and their farms. Sub-Saharan African economies will grow by over five percent this year, and fertilizer companies like Uralkali (UK: URKA) and Yara (YAR.OL) are tripping over themselves to grab market share in these once-disdained regions.

    Bill Clinton recently called the cell phone one of the most transformative developments for poor people worldwide. For every one hundred people in Russia, there are 155 cell phones. The analogous figure in Ethiopia is only twenty. In the poorest villages of the world, hundreds of millions of new phone sales await Samsung (OTC:SSNLF), Sprint (NYSE:S), and AT&T (NYSE:T) await.

    Bicycles are one of the first things a poor peasant may save up to buy. Bicycle ownership, besides increasing economic production, may also double health clinic visits and increase school attendance, according to World Bicycle Relief.

    Decreasing hunger may spur forth a virtuous cycle wherein food security begets better health begets fewer births (no pun intended) begets greater savings begets better technology begets wealth begets better nutrition and so forth.

    But which corporations have the courage and vision to lead the private sector to abolish hunger?

    Elon Musk, founder of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Solar City (NASDAQ:SCTY), comes to mind. He could help feed the hungry and then sell them solar panels and battery-powered bicycles.

    The electric grid generally does not reach poor rural villages, and this is a potential market for solar companies such as JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS) and SunEdison (SUNE); the latter, for instance, manufactures solar-powered irrigation pumps. This is a market of hundreds of millions in India alone, where the pumps are being initially marketed.

    Electric bicycles are going viral in sales, and they can be plugged into off-grid solar panels installed by SolarCity. Musk could revolutionize the electric bike by developing a bike super-battery based on his Tesla car batteries. This is an obvious win-win for profits and people; far more so than SpaceX trips.

    Health food corporations could lead the movement to abolish hunger. Poor nations can work with the likes of Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM), SunOpta (NASDAQ:STKL), and Sprouts Farmers Market (NASDAQ:SFM) to become major organic food suppliers for these corporations. The production of organic fruits and vegetables is labor-intensive. People rising out of hunger and poverty may provide inexpensive labor, and many of them already know how to farm organically because they cannot afford pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

    Co-CEO John Mackey and Whole Foods already rally their customers to charitable causes. The corporation constantly organizes campaigns among its customers and suppliers to raise money for the Whole Planet Foundation micro-lending program (among others). The program micro-lends to poor women entrepreneurs worldwide.

    While Whole Planet has had a relatively small impact, John Mackey and the other Whole Foods executive could lead a much larger effort to completely abolish hunger. In his book, Conscious Capitalism, Mackey suggests that a corporation's mission can go beyond profits.

    As Spider-Man says, "With great power comes great responsibility."

    The public image of any corporation working to abolish hunger would be golden. And in this day and age, when hundreds of millions decide where to shop based on corporations' records on social responsibility, why shouldn't corporations go beyond social responsibility to something akin to worldwide moral leadership?

    It is ironic but not surprising that those capable of eradicating hunger in a matter of weeks ultimately are not bound to do so. But this is why morality, good and evil, right and wrong exist. While corporations may not be people, they are run by people.

    And undernourished children only need a few of those chief executive people to lead with their hearts.

    Disclosure: I am/we are long SUNE.

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    Author’s reply » I am long JKS, by the way.
    23 Jul 2014, 11:05 AM Reply Like
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