The G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: an instrument to control African agriculture

The G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: an instrument to control African agriculture

Date: 27 November 2013

I joined WDM four weeks ago as an intern and I must say it is an exciting time for a start, as I will be involved in a new ambitious campaign that will be launched in the new year. The campaign is rooted in global justice issues and will be about challenging the corporate control of the African food system through the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (New Alliance).

WDM will contest this initiative as part of the global movement for food sovereignty, which demands the right to food to be fulfilled, and that food producers and consumers can determine their own food systems and have control over the skills and resources that form them.

The New Alliance is supposedly committed to eradicating hunger in Africa, building on previous initiatives (such as the green revolution) that have failed so far to reach that goal. It is a partnership between the powerful G8, a number of African governments, transnational corporations and some domestic companies. Under its cooperation frameworks, African countries promise to reform their land laws and make other policy changes to facilitate private investment in agriculture. In exchange, they get hundreds of millions of dollars in donor assistance and promises from foreign companies and their local partners to invest considerably.

The G8 funds are supposed to be aligned with the country agriculture plans developed through the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) that was carried out through national consultation. But almost all the G8’s New Alliance policy measures that each African government commits to implement within clearly defined deadlines are exclusively aimed at increasing corporate investment in agricultural lands and input markets. This highlights how such initiatives are not really designed to serve the African people but rather to open up new markets for big corporations that are driven by maximum profits regardless of their devastating impact on local life.

In 2012, Mamadou Cissokho, honorary president of the Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa (ROPPA), sent a letter to the president of the African Union on behalf of African civil society networks and farmers’ organisations expressing his concerns over how the G8 was dictating agricultural policy in Africa:

“….on the eve of the G8 meeting at Camp David, I address myself to you, the President of the African Union – and through you to all African Heads of State – to ask what leads you to believe that Africa’s food security and food sovereignty could be achieved by international cooperation and outside the policy frameworks formulated in inclusive fashion with the peasants and producers of the continent…The G8 and G20 can in no way be considered appropriate places for such decisions.”

In a compelling statement from African civil society networks and organisations, the new alliance was dubbed as a new wave of colonialism and emphasised on the necessity of food sovereignty, on individual and household food security first, with trade arising from surpluses beyond this.

It is anticipated that these policy commitments from the African governments will reinforce land grabbing and destroy the livelihood of small farmers who will be robbed of their lands and forced into using expensive and damaging agrochemicals and corporate-controlled seeds, increasing therefore their poverty and debt.

As an African myself, the whole thing sounds like some IMF structural adjustment program that mortgaged our sovereignty and wreaked havoc on our countries’ economies in the 90s. For me, it is also another neo-colonial instrument advancing under the cloak of the “altruistic civilising progress”, in order to remove any barrier to greed and to keep us subordinated to a profoundly unjust global order. This is an order that is benefitting a tiny minority over the poor majority and is the cause of the poverty and hunger in Africa in the first place.

The G8’s New Alliance will neither eradicate hunger nor achieve food security for Africans and thus must be fought. Solidarity with African farmers is a duty of any person caring about global justice.

Early next year, WDM will be launching an exciting new campaign to challenge the corporate approach to agriculture in the global south, and demand food sovereignty. Please support our appeal for this campaign.

Photo: Pan-African News Wire