Cargill Makes Biggest Food-Aid Donation to Africa Famine

Cargill Inc. is donating about 10,000 metric tons of rice to alleviate hunger in the Horn of Africa in the largest contribution ever from a company to WFP USA, the U.S. advocate for the United Nations World Food Program.

The rice, valued at $5 million, was bought in India and is destined for northeastern Kenya, part of a region where about 13 million people are at risk of severe hunger, WFP USA said today in an e-mail. Minneapolis-based Cargill, the world’s largest agriculture company, handled procurement and shipping while the advocacy group raised funds to transport it from Mombasa, Kenya, to famine-stricken areas.

“The company has been a consistent philanthropist across a host of issues,” Cargill Chief Executive Officer Greg Page said in a telephone interview. The donation both creates income opportunities for farmers in India while helping suffering people in Africa, he said.

The food crisis in Somalia, the epicenter of hunger in the Horn of Africa region that also includes Kenya and Ethiopia, has eased as humanitarian aid has increased, the United Nations Famine Early Warning Systems Network said earlier this month. Food prices in the region have fallen, the UN said.

India was selected as a sourcing site because of its proximity to the Horn of Africa, a 23-day voyage across the Indian Ocean, Page said. Once in Kenya, the rice, about 22 million pounds, is being handled by the UN World Food Program, which tries to make sure distribution doesn’t distort local food prices, he said.

The company’s donation arose from an appeal from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the company said in a statement. The donated food will feed almost 1 million people for one month, Cargill said.

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