“I am more discouraged than I was when I started. The problems are so huge,” Mr. Buffett says.
In February 2007, his SUV pulled into Fufuo, a village in central Ghana. Accompanied by Ghanaian agronomist Kofi Boa, he hurried into a large cinder-block building where 30 farmers had been waiting, sheltered from the sun.
Back home, Mr. Buffett owned 800 acres of corn and soybeans and a fleet of the most modern John Deere implements. Now, he hoped to learn something from farmers who scratched the dirt with sticks and machetes. Mr. Boa, the agronomist, had been coaching them to replace slash-and-burn farming with a practice he called “no-till.”
In many African villages, poor farmers—who are often women—had traditionally made room for their crops by chopping down the brush and trees on a few acres of tribal land. It is hard on the farmer and the environment. The land is laid bare to erosion. As the soil deteriorates, farmers work harder and harder to produce food until they have to move on to another spot, repeating the cycle.
Mr. Boa told Fufuo’s farmers to disturb the ground as little as possible. Other than poking holes in the dirt to plant their seeds, the ground was not to be hoed or vegetation burned. Organic residue—such as leaves, stalks, and roots—was valuable, not trash. Fufuo’s farmers were taught to make room for their seeds shortly before planting time by squirting the competing vegetation with Chinese-made weed killer dispensed from backpacks.
The village quickly discovered that no-till plots yielded bigger crops with far less labor. The mulch acts as a sponge when it rains, banking water for crops, and then breaks down into plant food. The time the farmers saved by no longer hoeing weeds and cutting brush was time for money-making endeavors. Some started to raise cocoa trees, a crop prized by Ghana’s government for its export earnings; others began to raise chickens, feeding them with their surplus grain.
“How many seeds of corn do you plant on a hectare?” asked Mr. Buffett as he peered through thick eyeglasses and jotted down answers in a notebook. “Can you farm more land now?” he continued. “How much corn did you harvest?”
Further convinced he should support the no-till training of farmers, Mr. Buffett left. After his SUV drove off, swallowed in red dust, the farmers were told that their visitor was the son of a billionaire named Warren Buffett.
Trump’s Current Pick for Ag Secretary
Sonny Perdue III, the former governor of Georgia, is president-elect Donald Trump’s leading candidate to be his U.S. secretary of agriculture, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Perdue, 70, would succeed secretary Tom Vilsack. Perdue met with Trump on Nov. 30 and told reporters they talked about agricultural commodities traded domestically and internationally. While Perdue is the front-runner, the decision isn’t final, the person said.
Howard Buffett is a farmer, a very rich farmer, who is developing sustainable, regenerative agriculture in the US and Africa. Howard’s father’s bridge buddy, Bill Gates, is working the health track in Africa and India. Howard is saving Africa from hunger through ‘no-till’ farming. Trump still has time to pick a farmer over a politician as Secretary of Agriculture.
US Agriculture is not a swamp – it’s a barren lot that stretches from coast to coast with nothing on it but junk-yard dogs.
Industrialized Farming with Chemicals