Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Corporate Onslaught = Killer Profits = Neocolonialism

Stop the corporate onslaught in Africa!

Nowhere is the threat posed by the onslaught of profit-driven private investment
in agriculture more obvious than across Africa, where under the guise of feeding
Africa and increasing investment, a host of initiatives are underway to destroy
smallholders and hand over African resources to corporations.
They come under many names – the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa
(AGRA), African Agricultural Growth Corridors, the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and
Nutrition, Feed the Future, the Gates Foundation but the underlying strategy is the
same. They are designed to convert millions of hectares of smallholder-based
farming to industrial plantations, with land, seeds, water, forests and food
production controlled by corporations and geared towards maximum profits
rather than food sovereignty.

In its latest report AGRA openly dismisses concerns from African social movements
about genetically modified crops as a ”farce” and ”fear of the unknown” and pushes
for new seed regimes that stop exchanges of seeds by farmers. Multi-million dollar
investments from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (a major AGRA donor) into
Monsanto, and revolving doors between donors and these corporations skew the
agenda of AGRA in favour of corporate-led farming.
The Growth Corridors aim to establish infrastructure specifically for commercial ag-
riculture and are designed by dozens of the world’s largest pesticide, GMO, fertiliser
and processed food companies, all of whom stand to make killer profits from new Af-
rican markets2
The G8 New Alliance forces African governments to change national
polices to access funding, for example by “systematically ceasing to distribute free
and unimproved [non-commercial] seeds to farmers, except in emergencies”, and
refining land law, if necessary, to encourage long-term land leasing”.

Donor countries such as the US, UK and G8 countries are pushing these schemes
to African leaders at the highest levels and attempting to undermine African-led
democratic initiatives to tackle hunger, such as the Maputo declaration to increase
public spending on agriculture and regional agriculture policies in West Africa.
But social movements are mobilising to hold their governments to account and calling
for a clean break with the defective policies of the past. The Alliance for Food
Sovereignty in Africa, which includes environmental groups, farmers’ movements, global
justice groups, development groups, faith-based groups, women’s groups and youth
groups from 50 African countries, convened a meeting to identify the threats and draw
up an action plan to achieve food sovereignty in Africa.

In a statement this year African movements identified these schemes as a
new wave of colonialism” based on accessing resources; flow of royalties out of
Africa and accessing new markets for corporate production. They warn that even the
Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development programme (CAADP) is a
compromised instrument, negotiated under extreme pressure from neoliberal

A plan to achieve food sovereignty in Africa would prioritise smallholders producing
for local and informal markets using proven low-input, ecologically sustainable
agricultural techniques including intercropping, on-farm compost production,
mixed farming systems (livestock, crops and trees).
Diversity of farming and knowledge should be paramount, with no corporation
able to privatise collective heritage. Investment strategies should be public,
participatory and not based on profit.


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