UK-backed scheme for African agriculture slammed by NGOs
Ninety NGOs and campaign groups have condemned the G7’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, as representatives of governments and multinational companies, including UK development secretary Justine Greening, meet in New York today to discuss the controversial scheme.
Groups including the Globalk Justice Now, Action Aid International and Greenpeace International say there is no evidence that the G7 scheme, to which the UK is contributing £600 million in aid money, is reducing poverty.
The NGOs from the G7 countries claim that the initiative’s real purpose is ‘to enable private corporations to influence agricultural policy to advance their own interests.’ They warn that the scheme will exacerbate poverty by depriving farmers of control over land and seeds and reducing biodiversity and soil fertility.
The New Alliance requires the ten African countries involved to change their land and seed laws for the benefit of big agribusiness companies. Under the scheme, Tanzania and Mozambique have made new laws to criminalise farmers who exchange seeds with each other rather than buying from companies like Monsanto. Similar laws are being drafted in Ghana and Malawi.
In Malawi, where lack of land is a serious problem for small-scale farmers, the Malawi government has committed under the New Alliance to make 200,000 hectares of land available for large-scale commercial agriculture by 2015.
In Burkina Faso, only 22 per cent of land being developed under a New Alliance project, the Bagré Growth Pole, is being allocated to small farmers, with the rest reserved for big business.
Heidi Chow, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said:
UK aid should help reduce poverty and inequality, and help the poorest people access essential resources like food, land and water. Instead, the New Alliance is helping some of the world’s most powerful companies expand their control over those resources. UK aid money should be pulled from this scheme and used to strengthen the people who really need it: the small farmers who feed most of Africa’s population.
Photo: 'Africa cake': Protestors presented a cake to the Department for International Development in April to highlight the New Alliance's carve-up of the continent.