By Richard Sultan
Production of food, especially is taking on a trend that is increasingly becoming more harmful to consumers.
Donors around the globe are injecting huge funding into initiatives that produce more and yet threaten the health of the people.
Imported fossil-fuel-based fertilizers and chemicals are being channelled into the continent with claims they enhance the yields of agriculture production and hence produce more to feed the continent.
But now Africa’s largest food producer networks and their allies are demanding a decisive shift away from that and prefer a self-sufficient ecological farming that revitalizes soil and protects ecosystems.
These calls are pouring in ahead of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)’s annual forum, set for September 5-9, where corporate executives, governments and donors will gather in Kigali, Rwanda, claiming “Bold Action for Resilient Food Systems.”
A united alliance representing the largest network of food producers and faith leaders in Africa have made it clear that the ‘bold action’ needed is that AGRA’s donors stop funding an initiative that has failed to improve productivity, incomes, and food security.
The AGRA’s donors include the Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, USAID, and governments of UK, Germany, and others.
Experts from African civil society, faith groups and farmers’ leaders held a press conference on September 1 calling for an end to their “failed” Green Revolution. Speakers highlighted how the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has pushed a development model that reinforces dependency on foreign inputs, including expensive fertilizers, undermining the resilience of African food systems.
“We are calling upon all the funders to please stop funding AGRA. Redirect your funding towards systems that enable people to have their dignity, for all creation to have an equal chance to live, where there are no chemicals in our water, in our ground, and in our food,” Gabriel Manyangadze, Climate Justice Coordinator at Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute(SAFCEI), said.
“Traditionally, chiefs were supposed to cater for the food needs of the widows and the orphaned,” he said.
“The current Industrial System not only inhibits small scale productivity but also takes away the land that is both the home and the livelihood of the small holder farmer.”
In 2021, over 200 organizations signed on letter from the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) demanding that donors withdraw support from AGRA, a project they said continues to disenfranchise the very farmers that they claim to support.
But the funding continues pouring in.
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is the largest civil society movement on the continent, bringing together farmers, pastoralists, fishers indigenous peoples, faith groups, women’s movements, youth and consumer associations in a united voice for food sovereignty.
It is a network of networks operating in 50 African countries, representing 200 million people.
A donor-commissioned evaluation confirmed that AGRA has failed to increase farmers’ yields, incomes and food security. In fact, studies show that since AGRA’s founding, food insecurity increased by 31 percent in the countries in which AGRA operates.
“Given this background, it is shocking that a number of international donors continue to prioritize corporate profits over people, leaving the necessary transition to sustainable agro ecological practices under funded,” Anuradha Mittal, the Executive Director of the Oakland Institute said.
“Ignoring the opposition of millions of African farmers and the evidence that exists of sustainable ways to increase yields and improve livelihoods, the African Development Bank is using the food price crisis to expand the use of industrial inputs to the benefit of agrochemical and agribusiness firms,” Mittal said.
According to the Alliance, home grown safe fertilizers can be easily produced in Africa.
They include a network of 15 farmer-managed centers across Africa producing bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides using low-cost, locally-available materials.
Ample evidence and case studies on agro ecology have led to widespread calls by farmers, civil society and U.N. agencies to transition towards these more sustainable models.
These systems and practices demonstrably improve soil fertility, increase productivity with lower costs and higher incomes for farmers, while building climate resiliency.
“Droughts destroy our harvests, staple food imports are disrupted, fertilizer prices have trebled. Meanwhile the disaster capitalists are circling overhead, planning their next feast. How is it possible that Africa, so rich in natural resources is dependent on others to feed ourselves? When are we going to break free of these neo-colonial chains and take control of our destiny?” Leonida Odongo of Haki Nawiri Afrika said.
“We have the experts, the best people to solve problems in Africa are people from the continent itself. We need afrocentric solutions. Our big question as African People is why should our problems be solved by entities outside the continent?” Odongo said.
“We are suffering from multiple crises, climate, COVID, war in Europe –all created outside Africa.”
Ferdinand Wafula of Bio-Gardening Innovations said food is critical for human survival.
“We must stop poisoning our food and our soil,” Wafula said.
“Our survival depends on how we care for the soil and pass it on to future generations.”