South African agribusinesses are aggressively expanding into Africa in search of profits from a relatively untapped consumer market with rising income levels and to escape the country’s negative economic conditions. This paper traces this expansion and outlines the implications for Africa’s market structure, food security and food sovereignty movements, as well as exploring the potential impact on Africa?s small-scale farmers and producers.
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is alarmed at the approval during September 2013, by the Council of Ministers of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) of the COMESA ?Draft Policy Statements and Guidelines for commercial planting of GMOs, Trade in GMOs and Emergency Food aid with GMO content.? The COMESA Policy aggressively promotes the wholesale proliferation of GMOs on the African continent by way of commercial plantings, commodity imports and food aid and flouts international biosafety law.
The Policy is intent on creating a clumsy, confusing, cumbersome and prohibitively exorbitant centralised regional decision making system that is utterly at odds with the provisions as set out in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and national biosafety frameworks. All of the COMESA member states have ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Almost all COMESA member states have developed their own National Biosafety Frameworks (NBFs), indicating that decision- making concerning GMOs is to be made at the national level.
Why then the need for this harmonised Policy? If not to by pass international and national biosafety regulations requiring case by case biosafety assessments, because the biotechnology industry, agribusiness, free trade proponents and the food aid industry are
Letter from ACB to Tiger Brands supported by 39 African organisations working at grass-roots on issues of agriculture, consumer concerns and primary health care calling upon Tiger Brands to go GM free. Tiger Brands operates in 25 African countries and has ownership of a number of food manufacturers on the continent including Chococam (Cameroon), Deli Foods (Nigeria), EATBI (Ethiopia), Haco Tiger Brands (Kenya), National Foods (Zimbabwe), UAC Foods (Nigeria), Dangote Flour Mills (Nigeria).
This document represents the submission by more than 80 civil society organisations from the SADC region, other parts of Africa and around the world to the SADC Secretariat. These groups representing millions of farmers have condemned the SADC daft Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants as spelling disaster for small farmers and food security in the region. They are calling for the rejection of the Protocol and urgent consultations with farmers, farmer movements and civil society before any further work is undertaken.
African farm analysts demand answers from UK over DfID funding Is the UK setting up a poverty trap for African farmers?
The Africa Centre for Biosafety (ACB), supported by Food & Water Europe and the Gaia Foundation, today wrote to UK Ministers for International Development, Business and Environment asking for evidence for the basis of UK overseas aid policy.*
ACB recently published a searing critique of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (known as AGRA, supported by agribusiness multinationals and the Gates Foundation). The study finds the scheme is ultimately not about developing lasting solutions to hunger, but imposing a cash economy on African agriculture that will inevitably result in farmers becoming dependent on the multinational corporations profiting from the hardship that will follow.
AGRA effectively seeks to institutionalise biopiracy by accessing publicly available genetic resources, patenting or imposing other intellectual property rights on the resulting seeds, and then using these industrial monoculture crops to channel African farmers into focusing on earning enough export cash to buy the privatised seed. The AGRA model uses free inputs to develop monopoly control over outputs and expects farmers to pay for seeds they previously shared and traded, and played a major part in developing over thousands of years.
AGRA?s model creates the foundation for the expansion of biotechnology and synthetic agricultural inputs,
The core of the paper is focused on the pressures being exerted on African governments to adopt the 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV), particularly through regional harmonisation of plant variety protection (PVP) policies and laws. We also discuss the adverse impacts PVP laws will have on the exercise of farmers? rights in Africa, and concomitantly, on agricultural biodiversity, food security, livelihoods, knowledge systems and culture.
“Seeds are the very basis of human society and have been for all of human history. Until very recently, farming and seed breeding were undertaken by farmers on their own land, season after season. However, we are now witnessing the separation of these two interdependent activities, with seed breeding increasingly being privatised and farmers becoming increasingly dependent on seed varieties made available to them at the discretion of seed companies. This process of separation began in Europe and North America at the turn of the nineteenth century, and continues today in developing countries and developed countries alike.”
During October/November 2012, a number of African groups from civil society in Africa supported a submission to ARIPO on its draft policy and legal framework for PVP. In such submission, the groups pointed out that draft legal framework was not written with the interests of sub-Saharan African states in mind, particularly ARIPO member states. This is because there is no attempt to develop a sui generis system suitable to the African context. It instead blindly copies and expands on UPOV 1991.
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
Abbreviations and acronyms
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1??? Know the field and articulate your position
2??? ?Familiarise yourself with the regulatory issues
3??? Identify your allies
4??? Interact with the process
5??? Keep the pressure on
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