Africa Wide

Nuanced rhetoric and the path to poverty: AGRA, small-scale farmers, and seed and soil fertility in Tanzania

The report indicates a well-coordinated effort by selected states especially the US and in the EU, philanthropic institutions like AGRA, multilateral institutions like the World Bank, donors and multinational corporations (MNCs) including Yara, Monsanto and Pioneer to construct a Green Revolution that aims to produce a layer of commercial surplus producers. This is an explicit goal and they are not shy of saying it. However, the long-term social and ecological impacts of this agenda are questionable, with concerns about loss of land, biodiversity, and sovereignty.

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AGRA’s scandalous subsidisation of big fertiliser, financial and agribusiness corporations in Africa

In a scandalous move of skulduggery, the African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), under the guise of empowering smallholder farmers in Africa, is subsidising multinational fertiliser and financial corporations on African soil. Other beneficiaries of this scheme are the global grain trading and food processing giants.

AFAP, established in 2012, with a grant of US $25 million from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)-the biggest grant given to a single recipient by AGRA so far- is ostensibly working towards ensuring that African smallholder farmers grow food and profits. However, according to a new report from the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) – The African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP): The missing link in Africa’s Green Revolution, AFAP’s main focus is the provision of credit guarantees to importers and distributors of fertilisers in Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania.

“In essence, AFAP is using development funds, as well as money from the Ethiopian government – one of the least developed countries in the world – to subsidise multinational fertiliser companies such as Yara, which dominates the fertiliser trade in Africa. This also extends to large multinational banks such as the Standard Bank Group, Barclays and the Dutch firm Rabobank, who

AFSA Makes Small Gains for Farmers’ Rights in Draft SADC PVP Protocol

AFSA members participated at a SADC Regional Workshop that took place 13-14 March 2014, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The aim of the workshop was to review the draft SADC PVP Protocol. After marathon, highly contentious and difficult discussions, AFSA members were able to persuade member states to amend key provisions in the draft SADC PVP Protocol dealing with “disclosure of origin” and “farmers’ rights”. While some space was opened through the participation of AFSA members at the very tail end of the workshop, the objections to the draft SADC PVP Protocol being based on UPOV 1991still remain. Indeed, the road ahead for smallholders and their seed systems continues to look extremely bleak. A radical shift is required at the political level away from a singular system that favours only one kind of plant breeding (industrial) and corporate seed systems that facilitate commercial growing and regional trade in improved and protected seed only and in which smallholders’ role is defined as that of passive consumers or growers in certification schemes (that produce improved/protected seed) to a system that embraces a multitude of actors and encourages a diversity of farming systems and seed.

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PROTOCOL FOR PROTECTION OF NEW

AFSA STRONGLY CONDEMNS SLEIGHT OF HAND MOVES BY ARIPO TO JOIN UPOV 1991, BYPASS NATIONAL LAWS AND OUTLAW FARMERS RIGHTS

PRESS RELEASE FROM ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA

Addis Ababa, Accra 3 April 2014

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)1 strongly condemns the move by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) to join UPOV 1991, which will effectively outlaw the centuries-old African farmers? practice of freely using, exchanging and selling seeds/propagating material. These practices underpin 90% of the agricultural system within the ARIPO region.2

AFSA has learnt that the Secretary General of ARIPO, on 6 March 2014, requested the UPOV Council to consider the Draft ARIPO Protocol for the Protection of Plant Varieties (?Draft Protocol?) for its conformity with the UPOV 1991 Convention3. If at the UPOV meeting to be held in Geneva on 11 April 2014, the UPOV Council decides that the Draft Protocol is indeed in conformity with UPOV 1991, and that ARIPO member states that ratify the Draft Protocol can join UPOV 1991, the implications will be far reaching.

According to Duke Tagoe from Food Sovereignty Ghana, a grassroots movement aggressively and successfully opposing Ghana?s Plant Variety Protection Bill, ?this will mean that our government in Ghana, who has been struggling to pass our Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Bill because of local resistance

GM Maize: lessons for Africa – Cartels collusion and control of South Africa’s staple food

This is a briefing about power and control in our food system, focusing chiefly on South Africa’s staple food, maize. It shows how a select group of companies, including Tiger Brands, Pioneer and Premier Foods commandeer the entire maize value chain and continue to squeeze the poorest South Africans. These corporate giants are now glancing covetously to the vast African market north of the Limpopo. Experiences from South Africa should serve as stark warnings.

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Press statement.

NEW SEED LEGISLATION SPELLS DISASTER FOR SMALL FARMERS IN AFRICA

Civil society organisations from the SADC region, and around the world have condemned the SADC draft Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (Plant Breeders? Rights) as spelling disaster for small farmers and food security in the region. These groups, representing millions of farmers in Africa and around the world have submitted their concerns to the SADC Secretariat. They are calling for the rejection of the Protocol and urgent consultations with farmers, farmer movements and civil society before it?s too late.

According to the groups, the Protocol is inflexible, restrictive and imposes a ?one-size-fits-all? plant variety protection (PVP) system on all SADC countries irrespective of the nature of agricultural systems, social and economic development. It is modeled after the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991), an instrument which was developed by industrialized countries to address their own needs. UPOV 1991 grants extremely strong intellectual property right protection to plant breeders, and disallows farmers from continuing their customary practices of freely using, exchanging and selling farm-saved seeds.

According to Moses Shaha, regional chairman for the East and Southern African small-scale Farmers? Forum (ESAFF): ?The proposed legislation gives big-business breeders significant rights,

Harmonisation of Africa?s seed laws: death knell for African seed systems

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has released its new report titled, ?Harmonisation of Africa?s seed laws: a recipe for disaster- Players, motives and dynamics. The report shows how African governments are being co-opted into harmonising seed laws relating to border control measures, phytosanitary control, variety release systems, certification standards and intellectual property rights, to the detriment of African small-holder farmers and their seed systems.

According to Mariam Mayet of the ACB, ?The effect of these efforts, which are being pushed through African regional trading blocs such as COMESA and SADC[1] include:

  • facilitating the unlawful appropriation and privatization of African germplasm;
  • providing extremely strong intellectual property protection for commercial seed breeders and severely restricting the rights of farmers to freely use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds;
  • facilitating the creation of regional seed markets where the only types of seed on offer to small scale farmers are commercially protected varieties; and
  • threatening farmer- managed seed systems and markets.?

The report shows that harmonized intellectual property rights (plant variety protection-?PVP?) over seeds are all based on the 1991 Act of the International Union of the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV 1991). UPOV 1991 was developed by industrialized countries more than

Open Letter to African Governments and AGRA (The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)

The undersigned 28 civil society organizations support and represent the interests of smallholder farmers and livestock keepers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and are concerned with the conservation of agricultural biodiversity for livelihood security and food sovereignty.

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View the full statement here.

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA): laying the groundwork for the commercialisation of African agriculture

We consider AGRA’s broad philosophy and structure, focusing on AGRA’s own views or those of its consultants, before turning to a more detailed consideration of its specific work in the Programme for Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS) and, in slightly less detail, its Soil Health Programme (SHP). These programmes are inseparable because seed and soil fertility technologies are interlinked. Seed and fertiliser are the fundamental technological interventions on which AGRA’s strategies hang. The paper concludes with thoughts for ways for the broad agroecological and food and seed sovereignty movements to respond to AGRA.

Our conclusions include the following: AGRA is undoubtedly laying the groundwork for the commercialisation of African agriculture and its selective integration into global circuits of accumulation. Benefits will be unevenly spread and we should expect accelerated divergences in farmer interests. This will lead to greater class differentiation and a deepening commodification of African agriculture (subordinating agricultural products to the imperatives of exchange for the realisation of surplus value, rather than as use values in their own right).

The shadow of Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and other seed and agrichemical multinationals, and equity funds lie just behind the scenes of AGRA’s show. Building new markets and market infrastructure for

African Civil Society calls on the African Union to ban genetically modified crops

An urgent appeal has been made to the African Union (AU) to discuss a ban on the cultivation, import and export of genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa at the next AU summit, to be held in January 2013. An African Civil Society Statement, signed by over 400 African organisations representing small-scale farmers, faith-based organisations, social movements, non-governmental organisations, organic producers, consumers, business people and ordinary citizens, has been sent to the Permanent Representative Council (PRC) of the AU. The statement was supported by a substantive document detailing the failure of GM technology to deliver any of its promised benefits since its global introduction some 16 years ago.

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The group pointed to a dire lack of safety data on GM foods and condemned the patenting of life and the privatisation of agriculture that is threatening to dispossess African food producers of control over their production systems. They have requested that African leaders address the issue at next year?s Summit, themed ?Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance?.

According to Ms. Elizabeth Mpofo, Chairperson of the East and Southern African Farmers Forum (ESAFF) and member of La Via Campesina, ?corporate-owned, genetically modified seed won?t solve any of our problems.