This article appears in the October 23, 2020 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Call to Action: Emergency Food for Africa Now!
The following is adapted from Mrs. Baker’s presentation October 17, 2020 to the LaRouche PAC Town Hall National Meeting, “Emergency Food Aid to Africa Now! President Trump Can Make All the Difference.” The full video is available here.
Oct. 20—This week the Executive Director of the UN’s World Food Programme, David Beasley, said that seven million people have died already this year from starvation, and millions more—it could be 30 million—will die in the coming months, if we don’t take action. Add in the COVID-19 deaths—officially over a million now—which are undercounted, and we face the holocaust of 2020. To stop it, Beasley called for funding of $6.8 billion through early 2021.
Beasley spoke in Rome October 13, at the opening of a 3-day conference of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Then October 16, World Food Day, he spoke out again, focusing on the Sahel—where he was in person last week—saying that in his view, the world today has a “hunger for cooperation,” as well as a hunger for food.
His own and his agency’s actions amount to a special intervention right now—to save lives, and to promote collaborative action. On October 9, the World Food Programme won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work. His first words on hearing the news, while in Niger, was: “Wow—many Wows!” Then, he said, “this is a call to action.” We now “have the world’s attention.”
This is of strategic importance, given that Beasley is an associate of President Trump, who nominated him for his position in early 2017, which was then approved at the UN. Beasley was a Republican governor in South Carolina (1995-1999). The U.S. is the biggest backer of the World Food Programme in contributions and in other ways. The impact of the Presidency of the United States moving on this crisis can make all the difference in the world, literally—just as President Trump is moving for space science, bioscience, and agro-industrial strength. You can imagine: One phone call from the White House to President Putin, or President Xi, or Chancellor Merkel and others, to act on the hunger pandemic holocaust, and things will happen.
The death toll now mounting from both COVID-19 and the hunger pandemic comes from the breakdown of the economic system. Regarding the virus itself, the science and technology exist to contain such pathogens—in human, animal, or plant life. But we’re not implementing them. In the case of food, the science and technology likewise exist to produce it, but we’re not doing it. (The notable exception is China.) It is a policy and morality crisis, not a resources limitation. This is what must change in the spirit of responding to the emergency.
A Matter of Life and Death
An emergency appeal was issued Oct. 13 from South Africa, from Ramasimong Phillip Tsokolibane, the leader of the LaRouche movement there. His statement is titled, “A Matter of Life or Death—Call for International Mobilization of Food Resources to Fight Starvation in Africa.”
Mr. Tsokolibane states:
…[T]he issue we face, if we want to save lives, is securing massive amounts of food, as soon as possible, to hungry and starving people. Given the state of infrastructure on the continent, and the fact that much of this starvation is occurring in isolated, rural areas, the distribution that must take place is well beyond the means of individual governments and those of relief agencies.
I believe we must mobilize the logistical capacities of the world’s most capable military forces and design a strategy to bring food supplies from such food-producing nations as the United States and Canada, and bring them directly to those who need them. Let allies and adversaries alike, join forces, in this greatest of all humanitarian efforts.
Mr. Tsokolibane appealed directly to President Trump:
Take up this challenge. Give America’s farmers the mission to produce the food to feed the starving, while deploying the vast resources of the U.S. military on this mission of mercy to bring food to those who need it on my continent.
He made appreciative reference to First Lady Melania,
who pledged to help Africa and especially its children in any and every way possible, while visiting the continent in October 2018. By emergency action, take whatever steps are necessary to make this happen.
What should come out of this initiative, he said, would be the kind of international great power summit that has been called for by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute.
The Map of Hunger
Here is a snapshot (see Figure 1) of the extent of hunger in Africa and elsewhere, as of July. The total number of people identified in the 30 nations shown, add up to 230 million, and with some in other locations. Today, there are some 270 million people at present in need of food aid, according to the World Food Programme yesterday.
In Africa, there are 155 million people in urgent need of food. They are in 14 nations (and others). In numbers: (in millions) Burkina Faso (4.8); Cameroon (5.2); Central African Republic (3.1); Democratic Republic of the Congo (21.0); Ethiopia (18.0); Liberia (0.84); Mali (3.5); Mozambique (3.3); Niger (5.9); Nigeria (23.8); Sierra Leone (2.9); Somalia (6.3); South Sudan (10.2); Sudan (17.7); Zimbabwe (6.3).
In Asia, there are 60 million, in nine nations: (in millions) Afghanistan (20.8); Bangladesh (1.3); Iraq (1.8); Lebanon (2.9 before the explosion of the grain elevators); Pakistan (4.5); Palestine (2); Syria (9.2); Turkey (2.1); Ukraine (0.5); Yemen (24.8).
In the Americas, there are 34 million, in nine nations: (in millions) Colombia (1.6); Ecuador (0.5); El Salvador (0.5); Guatemala (3.6); Haiti (6.9); Honduras (2.8); Nicaragua (0.1); Peru (0.8); Venezuela (18.2).
What gives rise to this picture, you can well imagine. There are specific factors, such as the locust plague, livestock diseases and bad weather. But secondly, the whole low-technology platform of production, with low-yield crops and precarious conditions, figures in. Tsokolibane:
This deliberate under-development [has been] deliberately enforced by the neo-colonial power of the British Empire, acting through their financial power in the City of London and Wall Street.
Then, comes the SARS-COVID-2 virus, with all its disruptions. Trucks can’t cross borders to deliver pesticides, or harvests. Farmers can’t get to their fields. Extension agents can’t move around. And there are terrible situations of people with no means to buy food, even if it is in the markets.
Productive Farm Regions in Crisis
Now to fill out this picture, you have to go back to the view of the whole world. In recent decades, Africa has become more, not less, dependent on imports for basic foods. It is 40 percent dependent on imports for staples—grains—rice, wheat, sorghum, and other basics. These supplies come from the high-tech farm regions in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, Argentina, Brazil—and also Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan. The transnational commodity and trade firms of the Wall Street/London syndicate dominate most all of the trade, and they set it up this way through the World Trade Organization and related enforcement operations.
So, for example, take sorghum—the U.S. producers are paid nothing, and the African consumers must pay more than they can afford. In addition, enclaves of for-export agriculture are all over Africa, Central and South America, and parts of Asia, where flowers, produce, fish, and other specialties are produced for export to Europe and the U.S., to the detriment of capacity for basic food supplies in the exporting nations—from Kenya to Ecuador.
This was all getting so bad before COVID-19, that in the last few years, world hunger was rising, not falling, apart from China. The food cartels in recent decades have racked up huge profits—including year-to-date during the pandemic—for example, Cargill. But profiteering isn’t the worst of it. Add to this the “green” food fascism.
On top of low prices to the farmers in the U.S., Europe, South America and elsewhere, the green side of Wall Street/London comes in, and dictates how to restrict the functioning of independent, family-scale farming, by restrictions on the use of water, chemicals, land, and how they raise animals—you name it. This onslaught, on top of the low prices to farmers, has resulted in the spike of suicide rates in the U.S. farmbelt. In Europe, farmers have taken to the streets with tractorcade protests.
Breakdown Crisis, Urgency for New Paradigm
This whole system—which never should have been allowed to happen—is itself now in breakdown. The Schiller Institute has provided a forum to farmers and representatives of Africa and elsewhere to discuss the food and agriculture crises in four conferences held over April to September, and in many other side discussions.
In April, the World Food Programme Director warned the UN Security Council that COVID-19, on top of what was already worsening hunger before the virus, was creating a situation worse that after World War II. He warned at an FAO meeting that by fall we could reach a point where 300,000 people a day would be dying, for three months, unless we took action. He called it, “a crisis of Biblical proportions.”
In May the Schiller Institute issued an international call for action, “Stop the Hunger Pandemic! Save Farmers, Deliver the Food.” Over the Summer, Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche initiated a new global health initiative. Former Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, in her efforts for an international health mobilization, has stressed adequate food and nutrition as preconditions for a healthy population.
At the same time have come programs for the needed new economic system. In May, the LaRouche PAC issued a report, “The LaRouche Plan to Reopen the U.S. Economy; The World Needs 1.5 Billion New, Productive Jobs,” (EIR, May 3, 2020). In France, the LaRouche movement issued a “Roadmap” for establishing a productive economy. This month, a blueprint has been issued in Germany.
Now new impetus for moving on these designs comes from the “Call to Action” on emergency food for Africa, from the World Food Programme Executive Director Beasley, and from the South African voice of Tsokolibane, speaking for his whole continent. These both pose the critical role for President Trump to move on this, and to resume the strategic relationships he cultivated successfully at the beginning of his Presidency, which then were sabotaged by the enemies of humanity.
What To Do
1. Emergency Food Delivery. The quantities and types of food needed—grains, proteins, oils, sugars, including fortified relief products—can be mustered, through a drastically expanded WFP requisitioning process, for direct delivery, along with direct disbursements of money for local purchasing by people in need, where food is at hand. For this to happen, the funding must start flowing towards the $6.8 billion requested. The policy is to “clean the cupboard bare” to meet immediate need.
The logistics of delivering the supplies has two aspects, which must be met for the emergency:
First, the WFP transportation system itself—which delivers most all of the UN non-food humanitarian aid (medicines, disaster relief, education materials) as well as food, must be augmented. This has already been done to a degree by nations lending planes and crews, e.g., the U.A.E. and Canada. The WFP/UNHRD (UN Humanitarian Response Depot) has a network of six depots for pre-positioning food and aid, with airfields, warehouses, transit housing, decontamination facilities, etc. Some 90 aircraft are in its fleet, in the UNHAS (UN Humanitarian Air Service), operated by the WFP. Especially important for Africa right now are the UNHRD hubs in Accra, Ghana, in Brindisi, Italy, in Las Palmas, Spain, and in Dubai. There are also hubs in Panama and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Second, U.S. and other collaborating military logistics capabilities must be deployed not only for the heavy lifting, but at the receiving end, for building or preparing to build, infrastructure—roads, port facilities, airfields, warehouses, contingency electricity and water provision—for permanent benefit.
2. Commission and Pre-Position More Food. To maintain supplies over the coming months, needed volumes of relief foods must be lined up well in advance, and capacity stood up to supply it. Pre-positioning at key locations, near to delivery regions, must be carried out, as well as warehousing in the supply chain. The food processing capability is short in several areas. For example, in the U.S. the capacity to produce milk powder is very restricted, and must be increased. The capacity to can meat products is limited and can be increased. Any limitations must be ended on milling and special baking of fortified relief foods, etc. The National Defense Production Act can be invoked wherever needed. It has been used this year for producing ventilators and personal protection equipment to combat COVID-19.
3. Commission Increased Food Production. In the U.S., Canada, and collaborating nations with established, high-tech agriculture, the goal is more food, beginning in the next harvest period, and continuing in the harvest cycles over the next few years. This requires intervention with decent pricing to the farmers—parity-based, and related measures.
In places of low-tech agriculture, and lack of infrastructure, all that can be done in the short term—better seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel, equipment, etc.—must be done, to at least get the benefit of what is possible. Concretely, this means that the many token programs of aid to production, e.g., the donations of fertilizers to places in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, should be scaled up rapidly.
Special aid must be given to entirely beat back the locust disaster in Africa and South Asia, and to also deal with outbreaks of crop and livestock diseases, especially the African swine fever epidemic among hogs.
To add to supply in the short term, redirect flows of basic foods going out of Africa, e.g., fruits, vegetables, and fish to Europe, which are from the trade patterns imposed by the transnational cartels. Instead, make use of this food, and capacity to produce it, to meet needs within Africa now, in the hunger emergency.
4. Agriculture Infrastructure Development must now be launched in Africa and in other places where hi-tech farming has been suppressed, or confined to transnational-run plantations. Initiate all needed measures for full-scale modern agriculture. As a continent, intra-Africa trade in staples is very restricted, compared to what would benefit its 54 nations. The programs needed include the major water projects—such as Transaqua, the West-of-the-Nile farming project, cross-continental and regional rail—such as the new East-West Egypt rail initiative, and other priorities.
Unleashing science for advances in crop and livestock systems is essential, which means ending the patent-control over biotechnology research by the cartels.
5. End the Transnational Cartel Food Control System. No long-term improvements in agriculture and food production in any nation can take place without ending the transnational cartel system that is now behind the famine and is ruining farmers in the trans-Atlantic nations and elsewhere. This includes such priority measures as busting up the conglomerates, from Walmart to the infamous meatpackers—JBS, Cargill, Marfrig, Smithfield, Tyson Foods, and the others. Credit and sound banking must be provided through reorganizing the financial system on the principles of the U.S. Glass-Steagall Act, and a new Bretton Woods–style system of stable currencies and regulation must be inaugurated.
Lyndon LaRouche spelled out the principle involved in emergency food relief many times in recent decades—provide relief while simultaneously preparing for future development. In 1981 he wrote about this in “The Economic Need for Increasing the Human Population.” (See accompanying excerpt.)
Double Food Production: Mission, Not ‘Markets’
We need to double world food production as soon as possible. Use grain as the metric. At present the world is producing less than 3 billion tons a year, when 5 billion is in the range of what is needed. And for a growing population, more must be produced soon and as we go along. Follow it through, starting per capita. You can figure on the total volume of grain or equivalent you need per year, for direct eating as basic staples—bread, noodles—and add on the grain for indirect consumption through the animal protein chain, as your dietary preference may be—milk, eggs, meat. Then add more for food reserves, wastage (even if minimal), and that totals up to the 5 billion tons for 7.5 billion people, and keep adding on as our population grows.
There are no natural resources constraints to this. Once the cartelized, financialized looting is ended, the potential is vast. Look at Africa. The combination of advances in science with the building out of the infrastructure projects for the productive platform will give fabulous productivities in food production. The overview and details on this are given in the 2017 Schiller Institute Special Report, “Extending the New Silk Road to West Asia and Africa—A Vision of an Economic Renaissance,” by Hussein Askary and Jason Ross.
“Give the U.S. farmers a mission,” is what our South African friend and associate said in his appeal to President Trump this week. Taking up this mission, is what applies to us all.