The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in partnership with the União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC, National Peasants Union), and Kaleidoscopio has today released preliminary findings in a research project: ‘Agricultural investment activities in the Beira Corridor, Mozambique: Threats and opportunities for small-scale farmers.’ Joining Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique, the Beira Corridor plays a central role in the expansion of the Green Revolution project in Southern Africa.
The multi-donor Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) initiative has been established as Mozambique’s entry point for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The report explores small-scale farmers’ agro-ecological dynamics related to seed and soil fertility in Mozambique and the expansion of the Green Revolution project. The report considers the changing seed system in Mozambique, and the possible effects of regional seed agreements and laws on farmer-managed seed systems. The report also discusses private agro-dealers as key delivery mechanisms for Green Revolution technologies, especially improved seed, fertilizers and agrochemicals.
In Mozambique, most seed is still reproduced by farmers themselves, with some public sector and commercial activity. Mozambique’s plant variety protection (PVP) law prohibits farmers from reproducing and reusing protected seed varieties, even if these varieties are
Agricultural investment activities in the Beira Corridor, Mozambique: Threats and opportunities for small-scale farmers
Agricultural growth corridors are key tools for the expansion of the Green Revolution onto the African continent. In Southern Africa, the Beira Corridor – joining Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique – is one such corridor.
ACB has partnered with UNAC (the National Peasants’ Union) and Kaleidoscopio to produce a report that tracks the development of the Corridor, and links it to the broader Green Revolution thrust in Africa. The particular focus is on the multi-donor Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) initiative. The report also considers the changing seed system in Mozambique, and the possible effects of regional agreements and laws on farmer-managed seed systems. There is a section on agro-dealers as a key delivery mechanism for Green Revolution technologies, especially seed, fertilizer and agrochemicals, and reflections on the alternatives in farmer-based and public sector extension. Finally, the report considers activities around synthetic fertilizer production and distribution and the central role of the Beira Corridor in the Green Revolution strategy in Mozambique.
White men meet in London to plot ways of profiting off Africa’s seed systems
A meeting is to be held in London on 23 March by predominantly white men with a sprinkling of Africans, some of whom represent private seed companies, to discuss how to make a killing off Africa?s seed systems.
Farmers and civil society organisations have not been invited to the meeting, which will be attended only by private seed companies, donors, representatives from Africa?s regional economic communities, research centres and multinational development organisations.
The meeting will discuss a study produced by Monitor-Deloitte, commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and USAID. BMGF is a big sponsor of the commercialisation of agriculture in Africa, including through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Working with USAID, this commercial agenda extends US foreign policy into Africa and threatens the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers who rely on recycling seed for their livelihoods.
The goal of the Deloitte study is to develop models for commercialisation of seed production in Africa, especially on early generation seed (EGS), and to identify ways in which the African public sector could facilitate private involvement in African seed systems. The
Acquisition of Africa?s SeedCo by Monsanto, Groupe Limagrain: Neo-colonial occupation of Africa?s seed systems
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is deeply concerned about the recent acquisitions by multi-national seed companies of large parts of SeedCo, one of Africa?s largest home-grown seed companies. Attracting foreign investment from the world?s largest seed companies, most of who got to their current dominant positions by devouring national seed companies and their competitors through mergers and acquisitions, is an inevitable consequence of the fierce drive to commercialise agriculture in Africa.
The deals in question involve French seed giant Groupe Limagrain, the largest seed and plant breeding company in the European Union, who has invested up to US$60 million for a 28% stake in SeedCo. In another transaction, SeedCo has agreed to sell 49% of its shares in Africa?s only cottonseed company, Quton, to Mahyco of India. Mahyco is 26% owned by Monsanto and has 50:50 joint venture with the gene-giant to sub-license its genetically modified (GM) bt cotton traits throughout India. Interestingly, Mahyco also specialises in hybrid cotton varieties, unlike Quton, who also produces open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) of cottonseed.
These acquisitions follow close on the heels of Swiss biotech giant Syngenta?s take-over in 2013 of Zambian seed company MRI Seed, whose maize germplasm collection was said
ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA: MEDIA BRIEFING AFSA APPEALS TO ARIPO, AU AND UNECA FOR PROTECTION OF FARMERS’ RIGHTS & RIGHT TO FOOD
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), a Pan African platform comprising civil society networks and farmer organisations working towards food sovereignty in Africa, has today lodged an urgent appeal to the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to urgently revise the draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol, recognise farmers? rights and facilitate the right to food. AFSA is requesting that such revision be based on a broader consultation process with farmer organisations and experts from outside of the plant breeders? rights sector.
African civil society organisations, many of them members of AFSA, made submissions to ARIPO on its draft Plant Variety Protection (PVP) law and policies in November 2012. AFSA has itself submitted comments on ARIPO?s Response to Civil Society: Draft Legal Framework for Plant Variety Protection, March 2014. In both submissions, several serious concerns were raised about the law, which later was titled ?the draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol?, being based on UPOV 1991 (the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), a restrictive and inflexible legal regime focused solely on promoting and protecting the rights of commercial breeders that develop
Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) submission to ARIPO, AU and UNECA for urgent intervention in draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol, in order to protect farmers? rights and the right to food.
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
AFSA?S COMMENTS ON ARIPO?s RESPONSES TO CIVIL SOCIETY: DRAFT LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION
At the 2013 November meeting of the Administrative Council and Council of Ministers of ARIPO countries held in Kampala, Uganda, several documents on the proposed legal framework for Plant Variety Protection were distributed. Also circulated was a Matrix1 containing ARIPO?s responses to a detailed submission by civil society organizations (CSO) dated 6th November 20122. In this AFSA Comments, we respond to this Matrix, which is evasive, baseless and shows that ARIPO?s assertions that the views and comments of civil society have been taken into account is simply false.
ARIPO’S PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION LAW BASED ON UPOV 1991 CRIMINALISES FARMERS’ RIGHTS AND UNDERMINES SEED SYSTEMS IN AFRICA
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is gravely concerned about a draft law developed under the auspices of the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), dealing with a harmonised regional legal framework for the protection of plant breeders’ rights, titled “Draft Regional Policy and Legal Framework for Plant Variety Protection”. The ARIPO legal framework, if approved, will make it illegal for farmers to engage in their age-old practice of freely using, sharing and selling seeds/propagating material; a practice that underpins 90% of the smallholder agriculture systems in sub-Saharan Africa.