The latest salvo in the battle over Africa’s seed systems has been fired, writes Stephen Greenberg, with the Gates Foundation and USAID playing puppet-masters to Africa’s governments – now meeting in Addis Ababa – as they drive forward corporation-friendly seed regulations that exclude and marginalize the small farmers whose seeds and labour feed the continent.
More than 80% of Africa’s seed supply currently comes from millions of small-scale farmers recycling and exchanging seed from year to year. This seed meets very diverse needs in very diverse conditions.
A battle is currently being waged over Africa’s seed systems. After decades of neglect and weak investment in African agriculture, there is renewed interest in funding African agriculture.
These new investments take the form of philanthropic and international development aid as well as private investment funds. They are based on the potentially huge profitability of African agriculture – and seed systems are a key target.
Right now ministers are co-ordinating their next steps at the 34th COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) Intergovernmental Committee meeting that kicked off yesterday, 22nd March, in preparation for the main Summit that will follow on 30th and 31st March 2015.
COMESA’s key aim is