Food Aid or Technology Transfer? Which Option is More Logical in the Fight Against Global Hunger?

I read an article by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A new development of fully cooked instant Corn Soya Blend (CSB) for soybean processing by an Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Scientist was reported.

The justification for this instant cooked CSB is to address concerns of off-flavors, shelf life and uneven nutrient distribution in CSB.

The ARS scientist used a twin screw extruder to achieve the objectives. It is obvious to those who are familiar with the cost of such an extruder that the intent is to promote manufacturing the CSB in the U.S. and not in the region where the CSB is needed.

What is CSB?
CSB is a product that was developed 50 years ago by Agriculture Research Service (ARS) scientists as a partially cooked blend of corn and raw soy. The CSB is then fortified with vitamins and trace minerals. Other Fortified Blended Foods (FBF) were also developed using different combinations of grains and pulses in the same manner. The justification of partially cooked CSB is that a further cooking in water will take place as gruel is being constituted.

Handout or technology transfer?
The United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP), non-government organizations (NGO’s) and faith based organizations have promoted the idea of in-region processing of CSB and not to totally depend on charity from abroad to provide the product.

Extrusion and in particular, Insta-Pro High Shear Dry Extruders have been used as one of the major methods of processing CSB or FBF in the region where the product is needed.

The technology and know-how were provided to the local processors in many countries where hunger and starvation are prevalent, thus:

  • Employing people
  • Reducing their dependence on food from abroad
  • Capitalizing on the local ingredients and resources

On the other hand, CSB is being provided for many poor countries through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) along with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through Food for Peace Act. This option may help the immediate need during a crises resulting from conflicts or droughts. But, in the long run, should not be a standard policy in fighting hunger.

Some advocates for fighting world hunger may argue the fact that the U.S. food aid policies may perpetuate poverty. Providing CSB manufactured in the United States and shipped by U.S. firms to be distributed to the starving and hungry people in developing and under-developed countries does not provide incentives for their independence.

Food aid policies may not advance the food security for them. It also may not help the indigenous people in developing their resources to meet their needs.

The ideal system is to provide an affordable technology to manufacture the CSB or other FBF locally, thus:

  • Employing more people
  • Reducing the cost
  • Utilizing local ingredients as much as possible
  • Avoiding the dependence on foreign aid

Providing U.S. aid in the form of food to countries, including those that are not politically stable, may not assure delivery of the food to starving people.

Courtesy of Partners in Food Solution and General Mills, Inc., this video shows one of our customers in Zambia manufacturing Corn Soy Blend.

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