Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Paternalistic West

 Paternalistic thinking from Western firms will not solve Africa's agricultural problems, which need to be addressed from African viewpoints, Zambia's Agriculture Minister told a global forum.

"One of the challenges that Africa has is that the world thinks it can think for us," Minister Robert Sichinga said. "Please, for goodness sake, move away from this paternalistic attitude of thinking that you can think for us."

Sichinga said that, while  Johan Steyn, Managing Director of Cargill Inc. was from South Africa, he was representing Cargill, and "with all due respect, there is no way Cargill can be part of a solution." The minister took issue with the unlisted U.S. firm, one of the world's biggest agricultural commodities companies, paying farmers in Zambia low prices for their cotton crop.

Sichinga also criticized the forum's focus on high-tech solutions for agriculture that were irrelevant to Africa. "Who will pay for this technology and equipment and salaries that are needed for researchers not to migrate to other countries," he said.

The forum included presentations by Mark Post, a professor of physiology at Maastricht University who is the scientist behind laboratory-grown beef, meat grown from stem cells that cost 250,000 euros and five years of research to produce.

"Are you sure that we can be able to use now the new burger made out of stem cell technology? Is that what you expect of someone in a village with less than primary education to undertake?" Sichinga asked.

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