EU parliament slams aid scheme that uses big agribusiness to 'feed Africa'

Tuesday, 7 June, 2016

On Tuesday lunchtime the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to accept a highly critical report made by the EU Development Committee on the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition – an aid initiative that has received £600 million from DFID.
 
The report, which was commissioned earlier in the year, highlighted numerous concerns about the scheme, including:
 

  • the introduction and spread of certified seeds in Africa increases smallholder dependence, makes indebtedness more probable, and erodes seed diversity.
  • the need for EU Member States to invest in agro-ecological farming practices in developing countries.
  • the need for independent grievance mechanisms for those communities affected by land dispossession.
  • the lack of consultation with civil society groups from Africa before the launch of the scheme.
  • the flawed assumption that corporate investment in agriculture automatically improves food security and nutrition and reduces poverty.

 
The EU has put  USD $1.1bn  into the New Alliance.  Earlier in 2015, an independent audit of the UK’s aid partnerships with corporate partners singled out the New Alliance as being particularly ineffective. The report suggested that the £600 million that the UK had poured into the scheme served as " as little more than a means of promotion for the companies involved and a chance to increase their influence in policy debates”.

Aisha Dowell, a food campaigner with Global Justice Now said:

“This is the most high profile and damning report so far of the New Alliance, and proves that this is a scheme that has been cooked up to benefit big agribusiness companies rather than to help small-scale farmers or vulnerable communities. There needs to be an urgent inquiry as to why DfID is continuing to support such a fundamentally flawed initiative.
 
“There’s plenty of good reasons why the UK should be committed to contributing a fixed amount of GDP in aid money, but we need to be critically examining how that money is spent. The current fixation on corporate partnerships is based on an ideological vision of development that that is dangerously dated. 
 
“Small scale farmers across the globe produce 70% of the world’s food, often using techniques that are much more sustainable and climate-friendly than big agribusiness. There are plenty of ways that aid money could be used to improve the lives and livelihoods of these people. But the New Alliance is doing exactly the opposite by facilitating big agribusiness’ takeover of food systems in different African countries.”

Launched in 2012, the New Alliance brings together corporate investment with aid money from G7 countries and the European Union, aiming to lift 50 million people out of poverty in 10 African countries. In exchange for aid investment, African countries undergo a number of policy reforms to ensure a more business friendly environment to benefit the investors, among them is Monsanto, Coca-Cola and Nestle.

It is based on the assumption that corporate investment in agriculture will increase production and automatically improve food security and reduce poverty. But the initiative has been widely criticised by civil society organisations across the world. Not only has it failed to address poverty or hunger, but the scheme has facilitated the grabbing of land and natural resources, undermined small-scale farmers and their right to adequate food and nutrition, and accelerated seed privatisation.
 
Read Global Justice Now’s briefing – Growing evidence against the New Alliance
Print quality photos of ‘UK Aid carving up Africa’ can be found here