IMG_0377 Howard G. Buffett, son of Warren, farmer, photographer, and author of Forty Chances, Finding Hope in a Hungry World takes the reader by the hand and explores the deep rift between regions of the world where farmers grow an abundance of food and agriculture thrives and regions where malnutrition and hunger prevail. Mr. Howard Buffett’s foundation funds research to better understand productive farming and how to improve farm practices and the soil in regions where the farms are less productive and crops often fail. He explains why hunger is the norm in great parts of the globe. He writes short stories based on his experiences as a farmer, himself and a man with a mission to feed hungry people. I recommend his book, and if you wish, please read the letter I recently sent to Howard Buffett, and most important, he tells of solutions for world hunger and offers the reader reasons for hope.

Dear Mr. Buffett, I am inspired to write a note to you after reading your book, Forty Chances, Finding Hope in a Hungry World. I liked the style of your writing and how the stories were organized into chapters made distinct with your photos , research and experiences. The content seemed easy to grasp, and your photos make real the circumstances that words can’t describe. Thank you for the photo of your beautiful and joyful mother dancing with village people in Ghana.
I appreciate knowing that in a lifetime North American farmers count on 40 planting seasons, and it stands true as well that all of us have approximately 40 years or 40 chances to produce our life’s work.

Beginning the book with the long history of how a secure food supply was established in America starting in the 1700’s, and comparing the North American experience with the regions of the world where farming produces generally poor crops and malnourishment is the norm. As a reader, I was impressed with North America’s agriculture infrastructure, i.e. a land tenure system that connects farmers to the land in a reliable and stable way and inspires farmers to invest in and develop our rich soil, and a system of acquiring credit based on land value.

Even though I now live in rural Nebraska and graduated from a land-grant college, I didn’t appreciate the complexity of legislation, institutions, research, and the infrastructure that created and continues to further the conditions that nearly tripled farm productivity over the decades. You write, “In 1926 every American farmer fed 26 people, and today American farmers feed 155 people.”

You hold farmers in high regard, and I acquired more information about the business of farming and knowledge-base of farmers whether growing food for the organic market or the world market. In fact, I tell every farmer and banker whom I meet on the street about 40 Chances because it honors and acknowledge farmers work, experience, and technical expertise. Thank you for describing the work of a modern farmer in North America.

I read and looked at the photos in Part 2. Bravery, Courage, and Hope and better understood why hunger prevails in any region where farmers don’t have a title to the land they farm nor the best possible variety of seeds for the localities in which the are growing their crops. Being a Nebraskan who is land owner and lives in a small rural farming community, I never considered agro ecologies with variations in soil, conditions, rainfall and elevation so that they need different seed varieties even though they are separated by only several miles.

I am familiar with water issues in rural Nebraska, and I know water is seldom local and nearly always crosses government jurisdictions, thereby needing many stakeholders to find solutions. Logically, when NGO’s attempt to improve crop production in one or two years, it is nearly impossible to arrive at long term solutions to problems of land ownership, water fights, seed production, soil implementation, crop rotation, optimal farming practices for the specific location. Nebraska farmers, conservationists and politicians have yet to arrive at a sustainable solutions for water use, and our Nebraska farm land is atop one of the largest aquifers in the world!
Forty Chances is an authentic read because you work as a farmer as well as researching farming projects world wide. I visited the website, I found it full of facts, useful information that is simple to access. Thank you for including it in the book and also helpful notes and Index. Thank you for sharing your experiences, knowledge, and expertise.

Do you speak to groups about your foundation, research, Forty Chances
Finding Hope in a Hungry World, and your experiences?

Betty Sayers

Leave a Comment

Pssst! You should join us!

Sign-up to get our latest articles sent straight to your inbox each month.
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.