The aggressive promotion of a neo-liberal form of economic globalization has created super-rich capitalists in the South as well as the North, many of whom choose to invest some of their accumulated wealth in philanthropic ventures targeted at helping to reduce social problems, such as poverty, disease and food insecurity. The rich who have been actively involved in giving to charities and setting up philanthropic foundations – and who have developed a global reputation around this activity – are referred to here as capitalist philanthropists. While capitalist philanthropists’ often-stated rationale for this activity is to help others benefit from their ‘wealth creation’, this form of philanthropy is both politically and ideologically committed to a market approach. In the case of agriculture, this means the modernization of agriculture through market-led forces of production and support for a strategy to restructure agriculture with implementation of new technologies, innovation and management techniques. What has become known as the New Green Revolution is delivered through partnerships between public, private and local institutions and small farmers with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa. The article critically examines why capitalist philanthropists give away significant portions of their wealth to projects and programmes that support agrarian change and food security. It considers the motivations for partnerships with private corporations through which they engage in this agenda. What are the political and ideological motivations of capitalist philanthropy? Is this kind of giving altruistic, for the good of society? Or do the origins of capitalist philanthropy determine ‘giving’ as market-led development and expansion of the market as the solution to food security?
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