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Africa: Fighting Words from—and to—Dominion Farms

I read with great disappointment "Land Rush in Africa" (In Depth, Dec. 7). My company, Dominion Farms, was inappropriately vilified over its farming activity in Kenya. Dominion, established in 2003, is a large-scale farm committed to producing sustainable high-quality rice and fish while enhancing the lives of our employees and the community in which their families live.

Dominion Farms is more than a business. It is my life's mission, and it has invested more than $34 million in one of the poorest areas of Africa. I have firmly stood against corruption and individual self-interest, often being met with opposition. We have had accusations made against us by those whom we have come to assist, but this does not deter us from our mission to help them. The farm has suffered floods and hail and survived a civil war. The beauty of this story is that Dominion is still standing in the midst of poverty, disease, and superstition. We provide food security, jobs, and hope to an otherwise neglected people. Currently, I am in Kenya on my 68th trip and honored to lead the 700 employees we have here today. The love of the local people is overwhelming, and their dedication to our continued success is admirable.

My goal is not personal profit. But the farm must be profitable to expand and continue providing jobs and opportunities. We have a training facility that educates the youth, equipping them with knowledge, vocations, modern farming techniques, and life skills. This enables more productive lives for future generations.

Dominion Farms' emphasis is on what can be done, not what cannot be done, in Africa. The Dominion story is not about the struggle, but about perseverance and commitment to lift the lives of the poorest of the poor. To learn more we invite you to visit Dominion Farms in Kenya, or view our Web site at dominion-farms.com.

Calvin Burgess CEO, Dominion Farms, Guthrie, Okla.

Africa needs investment partners, not handouts from the developed world, and that is exactly what Dominion is doing. In fact, food security should be the right way to go to enable the continent to feed itself.

Screen name: Okoth Otura

Thanks for giving the rest of the world this information. Dominion does not offer any job opportunity to the people around the farm but is exploiting human rights and destroying the environment. Dominion acquired the land through corruption.

Screen name: Charles Chalo

This article illustrates just how tough the agriculture situation is in Africa. In theory, it's good for companies like Dominion to come in and offer their resources and expertise. But despite what Burgess says, it doesn't seem to be working very well. The time of the top-down approach may be over.

Screen name: Eleanor

Let us focus on evaluating the fundamental question raised in this article: Is the rush to invest in land and farming in Africa the new colonization? Are these investors setting up social enterprises whose monetary dividends are shared 100% among the local communities? What is the social dividend accrued to date by these communities?

Screen name: Sarah Lutta

Being African, I am disheartened. Corporations will always maximize profits. It is up to the people to hold local and national governments accountable. Even in the developed world, companies engage in profits first, but when they get "caught," they pay a hefty price. Africans need to realize outsiders will never solve their problems. They have to make a conscious decision to improve their countries, much like China and Singapore.

Screen name: AlfajiriKenya


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