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OAKLAND INSTITUTE: The Unholy Alliance, Five Western Donors Shape a Pro-Corporate Agenda for African Agriculture June 9, 2016

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Odaa OromooOakland Institute



The Unholy Alliance, Five Western Donors Shape a Pro-Corporate Agenda for African Agriculture, exposes how a coalition of four donor countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is shaping a pro-business environment in the agricultural sector of developing countries, especially in Africa. unholy_alliance_web

Five Western donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the US, UK, Danish, and Dutch governments, are bankrolling the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project, implemented by the World Bank. The EBA’s goal is to help create “policies that facilitate doing business in agriculture and increase the investment attractiveness and competitiveness of countries.”1 To achieve this, the EBA benchmarks areas including seeds, fertilizers, markets, transport, machinery, and finance, to determine whether or not countries’ laws facilitate doing business in agriculture. The EBA exemplifies a growing trend in international donors’ aid programs, which have become powerful instruments to impose a market-based, pro-private sector vision of agriculture. Following the 2007-2008 food price crisis, G8 members gathered at L’Aquila summit in Italy and pledged to support country-owned food security strategies. However, it did not take long for this commitment to give way to aid programs that, instead of supporting robust national agriculture policies, favor private sector-led and market-driven food systems. In 2012, the G8 members launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN), an initiative that gives a central place to agroindustry and agrochemical companies, to the detriment of family farmers.2 Africa, the site of NAFSN implementation, is a primary target of the pro-corporate push by several Western donors. The continent is marked by the proliferation of bilateral and multilateral initiatives to support the expansion of agribusinesses and the increased use of industrial inputs (synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, hybrid and genetically modified seeds, etc.). The US, UK, Danish, and Dutch governments are providing direct financing through business grants and other support mechanisms such as loans and insurance to agribusinesses operating in Africa. Often, the recipients of aid money are national companies with an assumed goal to combine aid with commercial interests. In parallel, rising amounts of taxpayers’ money is flowing into multilaterally funded entities such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), active in training, research, and advocacy around the use of hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers. AGRA is also a vehicle used to manage multi-donor initiatives such as the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF),3 which is investing in large-scale agricultural projects and industrial production of agricultural inputs. With the creation of the NAFSN, in which the EBA is entrenched,4 donors are increasingly conditioning their aid to African countries to policy reforms and measures that will facilitate the corporate takeover of their agriculture. The five donors of the EBA are spearheading an aggressive campaign, aimed at pushing to expand agribusiness activity in Africa through the takeover of land for commercial agriculture, opening of countries’ input markets, privatizing of seed systems, and reforms of agricultural trade and tax laws to boost corporate profit. The donors believe that an “agricultural transformation” based on global trade and agroindustry will increase economic growth and provide better incomes to farmers.5 But the impacts of such a transformation are likely to be devastating for the majority of African farmers. Rising pressure on land and natural resources; dependence on expensive and polluting agricultural inputs; increased vulnerability to climate shocks; criminalization of seed saving and exchange practices; and weakened government ability to support national agriculture are among the outcomes that the five donors investigated in this report will deliver to the continent.

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The Guardian: A switch to ecological farming will benefit health and environment – report June 7, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo

A switch to ecological farming will benefit health and environment – report

The world needs to move away from industrial agriculture to avoid ecological, social and human health crises, say scientists

John Vidal, The Guardian,  2 June 2016

A new approach to farming is needed to safeguard human health and avoid rising air and water pollution, high greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss, a group of 20 leading agronomists, health, nutrition and social scientists has concluded.
Rather than the giant feedlots used to rear animals or the uniform crop monocultures that now dominate farming worldwide, the solution is to diversify agriculture and re-orient it around ecological practices, says the report (pdf) by the International panel of experts on sustainable food systems (IPES-Food).
The benefits of a switch to a more ecologically oriented farming system would be seen in human and animal health, and improvements in soil and water quality, the report says.
The new group, which is co-chaired by Olivier De Schutter, former UN special rapporteur on food, and includes winners of the World Food prize and the heads of bio-science research groups, accepts that industrial agriculture and the global food system that has grown around it supplies large volumes of food to global markets.
But it argues that food supplies would not be greatly affected by a change to a more diverse farming system.
The group’s members, drawn from rich and poor countries with no affiliations to industry, say that industrial agriculture’s dependence on chemical fertilisers, pesticides and antibiotics to manage animals and agro-ecosystems, has led to ecological, social and human health crises.
“Today’s food and farming systems led systematically to negative outcomes and vulnerabilities. Many of these problems can be linked specifically to the industrial-scale feedlots and uniform crop monocultures that dominate agricultural landscapes, and rely on chemical fertilisers and pesticides as a means of managing agro-ecosystems,” the group says.
In place of an intensive global food system they propose that agriculture diversifies production and optimises biodiversity to build fertile, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods.
De Schutter said: “Many of the problems in food systems are linked specifically to the uniformity at the heart of industrial agriculture, and its reliance on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.” He said that simply tweaking industrial agriculture will not provide long-term solutions and a fundamentally different model was needed.
“It is not a lack of evidence holding back the agro-ecological alternative. It is the mismatch between its huge potential to improve outcomes across food systems, and its much smaller potential to generate profits for agribusiness firms.”
“There is growing evidence that these [agro-ecological] systems keep carbon in the ground, support biodiversity, rebuild soil fertility and sustain yields over time, providing a basis for secure farm livelihoods,” says the report.
Diversified agroecological systems can also pave the way for diverse diets and improved health.
The panel argues that industrial agriculture locks in farmers, subsidies, supermarkets, governments and consumers to the point where food systems are in the hands of very few companies and people.
“Food systems in which uniform crop commodities can be produced and traded on a massive scale are in the economic interests of crop breeders, pesticide manufacturers, grain traders and supermarkets alike,” says the report.
“Industrial agriculture has occupied a privileged position for decades and has failed to provide a recipe for sustainable food systems. There is enough evidence now to suggest that a shift towards diversified agro-ecological systems can dramatically improve these outcomes.”
The panel identifies three disastrous consequences of intensive farming. These include the fact that global food systems linked to industrial modes of farming or deforestation generate one-third of all greenhouse gasses.
In addition, the excessive application of fertilisers and pesticides in crop monocultures, and the waste generated by industrial animal feedlots, have resulted in severe water pollution.
Pesticide exposure in industrial farming systems has been linked to a possible range of human health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, birth defects, cancers and developmental disorders. Additionally, the preventative use of antibiotics in industrial animal production systems has exacerbated the problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, creating health risks for human populations.

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In the Global Land Rush the Great Food Robbery Targets Africa May 25, 2012

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‘Biodiversity can only exist through the small farmers, indigenous people, and pastoralists who maintain that biodiversity. So what threatens them threatens biodiversity. The corporate food system is about taking food production out of their hands. With the structural adjustment programs in the 1980s and 1990s Africa was pushed to move towards export agriculture and “Green Revolution” style projects. Some moved ahead, many of them failed. Now, because of the rise in prices of agricultural commodities, corporations are trying to restructure food systems around the world to move commodities around more, and take more profit. Africa is increasingly being targeted as a centre of production for global markets. The talk now is that Africa is one of the last frontiers because much of Africa is not under the model of export production. Land and water are still in the hands of local communities. So there’s a big push to industrialize agriculture for export. Unfortunately, African governments are colluding with corporations who want to pursue agribusiness in their countries, with the help of the World Bank and bilateral and multilateral donors. …In Ethiopia, you have a government that has stated its policy is to go from 80 percent rural population to 20 percent rural population. Who can imagine what all those people are going to do? What’s the plan there? What jobs are they going to have? You can’t say that this is about people in Africa choosing to move to cities. People are being forced out of their lands through mining projects, land acquisitions, and overall bad policies…So much is at stake in Africa. Whole territories are being targeted and affected by land grabbing. And this time the governments are major conduits for it. How are people going to react? In Ethiopia, where the whole southern part of the country is being handed over, earlier this month you had gunmen attack a farm of Saudi Arabian operations and five people died. It’s heating up. It’s very explosive. Africa is under greater pressure than it’s ever been, at least since colonial times.’

Interview with Devlin Kuyek by Molly Kane      http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/82375


“…Here’s the truth: we’re never going to end hunger in Africa without upholding the rights of smallholder women farmers who feed the continent and care for its ecosystems.” http://www.nationofchange.org/dont-put-monsanto-charge-ending-hunger-africa-1338125745

“The Ethiopian government, through the Agricultural Investment Support Directorate is at the forefront of this African Land Sale. Crops familiar to the area are often grown, such as maize, sesame, sorghum, in addition to wheat and rice. All let us state clearly, for export to Saudi Arabia, India, China etc, to be sold within the home market, benefitting the people of Ethiopia not.” http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/ethiopia/the-ethiopian-land-giveaway-oped/#more-7083

Squeezing Africa dry: behind every land grab is a water grab

‘Food cannot be grown without water. In Africa, one in three people endure water scarcity and climate change will make things worse. Building on Africa’s highly sophisticated indigenous water management systems could help resolve this growing crisis, but these very systems are being destroyed by large-scale land grabs amidst claimsthat Africa’s water is abundant, under-utilised and ready to be harnessed for export-oriented agriculture. GRAIN looks behind the current scramble for land in Africa to reveal a global struggle for what is increasingly seen as a commodity more precious than gold or oil – water.’



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