Arno

Director @ Upendo Honey, Dark Earth Carbon
Working (6-15 years of experience)
61Dar es Salaam, TanzaniaJoined May 2020

Bio

I have started companies in Tanzania working to help fill gaps in agricultural value chains where a private sector actor is more efficient. This was determined to be a more sustainable option than a traditional NGO route etc. as profitability would show that the "intervention" should exist. In addition, I have started with other like minded individuals a biochar company for carbon sequestration which will also work to improve soils for small scale farmers in East Africa, we believe this model is scalable to be able to remove a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere on a yearly basis (>>10M T per year).

How others can help me

Looking to make new contacts, and find collaborators for projects that I'm working on. Also discussions to help stimulate ideas.

How I can help others

I think I'm slightly different from most EA attendees, in that I've been more in the operational side of things (starting companies in sub-saharan Africa) etc. so would have a different perspective. Also would have potential operating projects that people could work with me on, slightly different from the more research based projects that are typical in the EA community.

Comments
8

100%! I've been trying to look at how to frame the EA conversation for our Tz chapter, not just for people who grew up here, but also for development workers who are already mostly aligned with the values of EA. 

As an additional doctor into a developing country doesn't equate to the marginal value of how much better that doctor is than you taking the place of someone else there is a much larger benefit as you've stated above. Living in rural Tanzania for years, you can see the benefit that (competent) doctors have to the community, and the answer is lots!

I think the above is correct, on top of what Elizier has written one should also consider the legal issues around this mess. 

I'm by no means a lawyer and so this is definitely not legal opinion, but it's very likely that this will be mired in bankruptcy procedures for a very long time (Lehman Brothers is still unwinding for instance) and even if the money was returned to FTX ventures it isn't certain that it would then be sent on to the ultimate people that you think are most deserving (i.e. the ones that had their accounts wiped out). It sounds as though the structure overall was a shit show and there were multiple entities in between, so where each account was held and how those liabilities sit in terms of priority of debt is probably very very unclear. There are still some chances that there will be some amount of money given back to the account holders as well.

In addition (and this might be even more controversial), I hope that the people that did get wiped out were using money that they could lose to some degree. Keep in mind that they were investing in crypto in offshore exchanges, and although FTX was thought to be a trustworthy partner, the entire space was known for scams and other mess, so hopefully there was an element of buyer beware for mos t of the account holders.  

Nice one, thanks Ben! Will dig into these a bit!

I agree, that before trying to get them kaiboshed completely it would be very good to understand what that looks like for the ag space and what the alternatives are and how cost effective are they? From my knowledge of pesticide usage in Tz and SSA, there are definitely alternatives that exist in the market which are being used already to reasonable effect which indicates the alternatives are comparable on a price to efficacy level (smallholders wouldn't spend money on these things if they don't see some results). 

Let me know how you're moving forward on this, would be happy to chip in/help where possible as I think there's some low hanging fruit that can be gotten based on my experience of the regulatory environment. Can get me on whatsapp +255763998637

Cheers!

Hi Ben, congratulations on winning! Fantastic post!

I'm based in Tanzania, and have connections to the ministry  of agriculture (can get this in front of the minister pretty easily if we have a good case for how large an issue it is in Tz). How would you recommend trying to find out how big an issue this might be here?

Good post! I think much focus of EA has been lost as to how best improve long term development and state capacity. I'm very supportive of what you guys are doing in Zambia. However, the only thing I would say is missing is discussion on how the private sector can be leveraged into these development objectives to both build state capacity and increase economic growth. EA in general doesn't focus enough on private sector led actions (ironic considering where all the funding comes from). And especially in a Sub-Saharan African context where the vast majority of development spending is garbage/wasted, you see much larger results with much smaller inputs via the private sector (the project that you are supporting being a great example of this!)

Meaner as in, people really tend not to be interested in animal welfare even as a by product (as there is a lot less education around animal welfare). An example comes to mind that I saw in traffic the other day, where animals are live transported they might be tied down in ways which are clearly painful and wouldn't be allowed in the US.

Not sure if this makes sense.

I think there is quite a lot of potential here, I run an aquaculture farm in Tanzania and we are in the process of lobbying the Tz govt for better regulations around aquaculture currently along the lines of what you're suggesting. There is a lot more scope to do this, especially working through private sector partners. 

The cost of these interventions on a per animal basis in SSA would be significantly lower than in many of the countries where animal rights advocates are currently working. In addition, some of the current standard practices around animal farming are quite a lot meaner than what you would see even than in industrial farming in the US.

Yeah, nice one, I agree, I think a lot about framing to get more engagement needed. I will try to have more of a think based on what you've written as well and let you know once I have a bit more of a framework, would be good to get your input!

I think key is showing a relation between GDP per capita/HDI and societal things which can exacerbate ex-risk. e.g. less chance of poor hygienic conditions in wet markets where pathogens can jump between species in Sweden than in DRC.