Hunger Summit Initiative Rejected by African Civil Society - Corporate
Takeover of Agriculture and Land Will Increase Hunger, Groups Claim
Addis Ababa, Algiers, Harare, Mombasa,
3rd June 2013
G8 "Hunger Summit" initiative rejected by African civil
society - Corporate takeover of agriculture & land will increase
hunger, groups claim
At the heart of the leading initiatives to “modernise” African
agriculture is a drive to open markets and create space for multinationals
to secure profits. Green revolution technologies – and the legal and
institutional changes being introduced to support them – will benefit
a few at the expense of the majority.
As world leaders gather at the high profile ‘Hunger Summit’ in London
this week to endorse the spate of on-going initiatives to ‘modernise’
African agriculture, 57 farmer and civil society organisations from
37 countries across the continent have slammed these efforts as ‘a
new wave of colonialism’. Harmonisation, free trade and the creation
of institutions and infrastructure to facilitate multinational companies'
penetration into Africa are presented as the answer to food insecurity
on the continent.
These large multinational seed, fertiliser and agrochemical companies
are setting the agenda for the G8’s "New Alliance for Food Security
and Nutrition in Africa", the Alliance for a Green Revolution
in Africa (AGRA) and the implementation of the African Union’s Comprehensive
African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).
current focus on Africa has to be placed in the larger context of
the gathering global crises with financial, food, energy and ecological
dimensions. Africa, with its so called ‘abundant’ yet ‘underutilised’
land, is seen as the new frontier in all of this,” said Meriem Louanchi
of the Association de R้flexion, dดEchanges et dดActions
pour lดEnvironnement et le D้veloppement, an Algerian
This renewed interest in African agriculture is framed in the logic
of the Green Revolution: introduce hybrid (or potentially genetically
modified) seeds that, used in conjunction with irrigation and chemical
fertilizers and pesticides, produce higher yields. Drawing small-holder
farmers into a cash economy through the provision of credit is fundamental
to this process.
However, past experiences of the Green Revolution do not bode well.
Initial productivity gains tapered off, as was the case in India,
while the system itself resulted in an increased concentration of
land holdings, and a declining number of food producing households,
with little option for other livelihood opportunities. “This was accompanied
by a precipitous loss of biodiversity, severe soil degradation and
water pollution from the overuse of synthetic fertilizers, and water
shortages caused by wasteful water use in irrigation,” noted Million
Belay, Co-ordinator of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa
(AFSA), a pan-African platform comprising networks and farmer organisations
across Africa, representing small holder farmers, pastoralists, hunter
/ gatherers, indigenous peoples and citizens.
“These interventions from AGRA and the G8 are, first and foremost,
about opening markets and creating space for multinational corporations
such as Yara, Monsanto and Cargill, to secure profits,” added Francis
Ngang, Secretary General of Inades-Formation and regional focal point
of COPAGEN (a network of civil society organisations, predominantly
small-holder farmers’ organizations in West Africa). “As world
leaders speak in philanthropic terms about ‘ending hunger’, behind
the scenes Africa’s seed and trade laws are being ‘harmonised’ to
the whim of these agri-business giants. The efforts of Africa’s farmers
over millennia stand to be privatised and expropriated, while traditional
and vital practices such as seed saving and sharing stand to be criminalised”.
That these initiatives have been framed in terms of the African Union’s
CAADP lends them an air of legitimacy as being an African process.
“It has to be remembered that CAADP emerged, as a programme of the
New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), at the
height of neo-liberalism in the early 2000s. As such, we consider
it to be a compromised instrument,” said Moses Shaha, Chair of the
Eastern and Southern African Farmers Forum (ESAFF), from Kenya. “For
many African governments, whether they agree with CAADP's prescriptions
or not, it offers the only possible source of financial relief after
decades of structural adjustment.”
As G8 leaders and the leaders of agribusiness peddle these false solutions,
there are a myriad of genuine alternatives, based around the concept
of food sovereignty, which would be far more appropriate for the African
continent. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge,
Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is a rich source of
scientifically sound proposals in this regard.
“We call upon the G8, AGRA and CAADP to acknowledge the realities
on the ground in Africa, such as the huge variation in agro-ecological
conditions, agricultural practices and amongst farmers themselves,
and to provide appropriate and dedicated support to all food producers,”
concluded Elizabeth Mpofu, of Via Campesina Africa from Zimbabwe.
“Further, these institutions must abandon efforts to assert private
ownership over seeds, agricultural techniques and knowledge, and invest
in and facilitate open source technologies in equal partnership with
Meriem Louanchi: +213 21 6985 / email@example.com
Million Belay: +251 11 550 71 72 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Francis Ngang: +225 22 40 02 16 / email@example.com
Moses Shaha: +254 67 31686 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Mpofu: +263 772 44316 / email@example.com
See Civil Society Statement at www.acbio.org.za