Faith compels World Food Bank with supply chain, investment and agricultural engineering experts – Baptist News Global

Inspired by faith, entrepreneur Richard Lackey has turned his experience in hedge fund management and emergency response into a passion for fighting food insecurity and malnutrition across the planet.

But instead of seeking donations to feed the hungry, Lucky founded the World Food Bank with a team of supply chain, investment and agricultural engineering experts dedicated to increasing the efficiency and production of subsistence farmers in developing nations through education and expanded markets .

Richard Lackey

The organization is not daunted by the current estimate of nearly 830 million malnourished people in the world, he said. “We can end world hunger by helping small farmers produce more food and, in the process, help the world’s poorest farmers escape cycles of deep poverty to become middle-income producers.”

This vision stems from a combination investment, market know-how and a belief that personal talent can be used for the greater good, he said.

Lackey’s service as a paramedic after college gave way to work in disaster relief management and hedge fund management. He has also consulted for startups and written books on investment management and technical analysis of financial markets.

Along the way, Lackey said he developed an interest in the issue of hunger, including the challenge of delivering healthy food to areas affected by natural disaster. He attributes this in part to growing up in Georgia and attending First Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Charles Stanley was its pastor.

“I grew up in the souththere was this idea that we could overcome anything if we could come together around the table as a family,” he said.

“We buy dried foods and seal them in Mylar bags, which last 15 to 20 years, and we store huge amounts of them outside of disaster areas.”

That attitude turned into a project with friends in the tech industry to develop a more efficient system for quickly delivering food to victims of a natural disaster. “We buy dried foods and seal them in Mylar bags, which last 15 to 20 years, and we store huge amounts of them outside of disaster areas.”

The approach is paying off, he added. “FEMA pays for the product and we use that money to do more.”

The reach was extended to parts of countries in Africa and the Middle East, where Lackey worked with the United Nations World Food Program to modernize food storage and delivery. This work, in turn, fostered a sense of calling to use his global business relationships and knowledge of markets to continually fight the systemic causes of hunger.

“It was one of those moments where you know God is speaking to you,” he explained.

But the World Food Bank he subsequently founded in 2015, not your typical non-profit, an NGO that raises money to feed the world’s hungry. Instead, it functions as an investment bank that trades in shelf-life foods as its primary commodity.

“We want to buy and store surplus commodities to help stabilize prices and create a more stable agricultural environment” in developing countries, he said.

Lackey’s organization also leveraged his experience in the stock, futures and options markets to connect global food exchanges with agricultural activities in regions chronically suffering from hunger. “The food exists. It’s just not where it needs to be,” he noted.

“The food exists. It’s just not where it needs to be.”

And where it exists, its quality is generally poor due to the unhealthy soil and seeds available to local growers, he said. The World Food Bank partners with suppliers of high-quality seeds and other products to prevent pests, weeds and other traditional building blocks for sustainable crops.

The organization seeks to further sustainable solutions to hunger by brokering global partnerships between smallholder farmers, governments, food processors and all aspects of supply chain operations to stabilize underserved markets and production.

Training smallholder farmers in better cultivation and harvesting techniques is another World Food Bank approach. Lackey said these operations are generally risk-averse because of a lack of sustainability: “That’s one of the reasons the quantity and quality of food is so much lower on small farms.”

To counter this trend, the organization facilitates hands-on agricultural training for farmers and offers training for local government workers and agronomists.

And the organization embarked on television and radio broadcasts to promote improved farming methods.

“We bought a media company in Kenya to offer farm makeover shows where experts come to demonstrate practices that can transform their operations,” Lackey said. “Viewers have grown from 8 million to 12 million since we bought the media company, and we are looking to expand into Africa.”

Lackey and his team also seek to expand the financing available to small farmers in developing countries by partnering with microfinance groups to provide affordable loans to farmers as their operations become more profitable.

There are already signs a comprehensive, farm-focused approach to addressing global hunger is working, he added. “We’re at the point now where we’ve lifted 1.6 million out of poverty and into middle income, and within seven years we want to help 100 million people out of poverty and into middle income.”

To do that, the World Food Bank is looking to increase its partnerships with people of faith in finance, technology and media, Lackey said.

“We use this as a platform to build relationships and ultimately share Jesus. We need more people of faith who understand the place of the media and the place that Africa will come into this work with us.”

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