FOOD FOR THOUGHT

EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT IT, but nobody does anything about it. That observation about the weather, properly attributed to Charles Dudley Warner, Mark Twain's friend and editor of the Hartford Courant, applies equally to starvation in the Third World. Confronted by hunger - widespread, devastating hunger - most people feel helpless.

A good place to start may be the distribution networks - warehouses, loading docks, grain silos - in developing nations. Countries often produce enough food to feed their people but do a poor job of getting it to those in need.Jagdish Sheth, Brooker professor of marketing at the University of Southern California, says that in the Third World as much as 40 percent of agricultural production goes to waste because it cannot be delivered.

Professor Sheth feels the distribution network, not the transportation infrastructure, is the key. Many developing countries already have an adequate transportation infrastructure in place, as evidenced by the fact that multinational corporations find the road and rail systems satisfactory for delivering their products. What these nations lack are storage and distribution facilities.

Building highways and railroads can be costly, building warehouses and grain silos much less so. For countries with transportation infrastructure already in place, the added costs are minimal. Such projects also offer an ideal opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together.

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