Statement warning the G7 of the threat that the New Alliance holds to small-scale farmers

Statement warning the G7 of the threat that the New Alliance holds to small-scale farmers

We, social movements, grassroots organizations and civil society organizations engaged in the defense of food sovereignty and the right to food in Africa, met at the World Social Forum in Tunis in March 2015 to unite those opposing the G8 “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition”. Social movements and organizations from Africa shared their experiences and analysis about the impacts of the New Alliance in their countries and participants from all over the world agreed to support their struggles against this threat to food sovereignty and agro-ecology. As such, we joined the Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles and adopted its Declaration.  This statement reflects our discussions and our demands to governments engaged in the New Alliance and expresses support for the call on the G7 Presidency made by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa.

Small-scale food producers are collectively the leading investors in agriculture, estimated to produce 70% of the food in Africa.  Addressing food and nutrition insecurity on the continent requires the full participation of those who are already producing, and promoting an agricultural system based on human rights and food sovereignty through local control over natural resources, seeds, land, water, forests, knowledge and technology. This is crucial for small-scale women and men farmers, pastoralists, livestock farmers, fisherfolk and hunter-gatherer societies. However, African governments and international donors support to African agriculture increasingly focuses on the extension of corporate led food and agricultural systems to the detriment of small-scale food producers.

One of the most worrying illustrations of this trend is the G8 “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition” , launched in 2012 by the G8 and implemented in ten African countries.  The New Alliance, following similar initiatives such as AGRA and GROW Africa, is based on the simplistic assumption that corporate investment in agriculture will increase production and that this will automatically improve food and nutrition security and reduce poverty. This logic completely neglects that food and nutrition security means consistent access to a diverse and nutritious diet, which will not be achieved simply by increasing food production. Moreover, much of the production supported by the New Alliance is in crops with relatively low nutritional value as well as in crops which are destined for export and/or non-food production.

Notwithstanding the lack of transparency in implementation of the New Alliance, experiences on the ground and case studies confirm that the policies promoted by the New Alliance facilitate the grabbing of land and other natural resources, further marginalize small-scale producers, and undermine the right to adequate food and nutrition.  The New Alliance cooperation framework agreements were hastily erected on the mere promise that the initiative will “unleash the power of the private sector”, ignoring the risks that will fall on small-scale food producers and other marginalized groups.  The agreements were made with no or little participation of small-scale food producers and groups affected by malnutrition, and they contain no concrete indicators on hunger and malnutrition. Furthermore, neither the G8 nor the G7 has a mandate to pursue these policy changes in other countries; the adequate forum for agreement to policy guidance is the UN Committee on World Food Security where all concerned parties have a voice. 

The adoption of New Alliance policy commitments by African countries enables companies to do business through the easing of export controls and tax laws, changing seed laws in the favor of multi-national companies, and through governments facilitating transfers of community land to investors. In spite of the urgent need for tax revenue to fund rural community development, countries have agreed to reduce taxes on agribusiness and on the inputs used most heavily by large farms. Existing projects backed by the New Alliance threaten small-scale farmers control over land and seeds, marginalize local markets and contribute to loss of biodiversity and soil fertility. This undermines the livelihoods of local communities and adequate nutrition based, among others, on access to diverse and nutritious diets. In several countries, seed laws are being introduced that could effectively criminalize farmer-to-farmer seed exchange in the future.  These policies and laws undermine peasants’ rights, bio-diversity, and the right to adequate food and nutrition. They will exacerbate future climate and economic shocks for small-scale farmers, instead of building their resilience to cope with such shocks. These changes are being made without national debate, thereby undermining democratic structures.

The Alternatives

Our organizations support investment alternatives made in response to the priorities of small-scale producers, and which contribute to the realization of the right to food. Alternative responses include provision of public services and infrastructure to support rural communities and local markets. Incentives such as public procurement, will allow small-scale producers to make additional investments and increase food production through decentralized, autonomous, local and sustainable food systems.

While the New Alliance emphasizes the need to “link smallholders to markets”  the projects it supports privilege global markets dominated by corporate traders, ignoring the existent vibrant and diverse local food systems that ensure the sustenance of the majority of Africa’s population today. For small-scale producers market access in itself is not sufficient, but rather the conditions of their access are crucial as are the rules and logics by which particular markets operate. Small-scale producers are present above all in informal markets, which channel food for the majority of the population. Little data has been collected on existing food systems and more research and public investment should be targeted to support systems that are already working.

Supporting markets that respond to the logic of sustainable family farming can also have a positive impact on climate change, rural employment and migration flows. But it is crucial that small-scale food producers are in the driver’s seat and have their own independent organizations to support them to retain control of their land, natural resources and projects that affect them.

The African Union and the G7 will hold their Heads of States Summit in June 2015. We call on all Governments participating in the New Alliance to:

  • Stop all engagement in and support for the New Alliance. Governments should ensure that all other policies and programmes on food and nutrition security are coherent with their international human rights obligations, including in relation to the right to adequate food and nutrition, and follow the UN Food and Agricultural Organizations’ Guidelines on the Right to Food, and the UN Committee on World Food Security’s Land Tenure Guidelines.  
  • Suspend implementation of policy commitments and projects until they are reviewed in each country by a multi-stakeholder platform that includes small-scale food producers’ organizations and marginalized groups.  Withdraw from those policies and projects that fail to promote the right to food, that undermine land access and the tenure rights of women and communities, or that prioritize business interests over those of marginalized population groups and the environment.
  • Always defend the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent of all communities affected by land deals and their full participation in the governance of land and natural resources.
  • Require full transparency of contracts and binding commitments for companies on rural employment and living wages, respecting ILO conventions with provisions for continual monitoring.
  • Respect farmers’ rights to produce, protect, use, exchange, promote and sell farm-saved seeds and expand support to farmer’s owned seeds banks and systems. Stop and review all processes that lead to seed laws based on UPOV 1991, patents or other laws that threaten small-scale farmers’ rights.
  • Enact public policies that support small-scale food producers and advance food sovereignty, the right to food, and agroecology with the full involvement of small-scale producers, civil society organizations, consumers and their organizations at national and regional levels.

To endorse this statement, please write to Gino Brunswijck:

List of signatories

Unión Solidaria de Comunidades – Pueblo Diaguita Cacano
MADGE Australia Inc  
SOS Faim Belgique
SAILD (Service d’Appui aux Initiatives Locales de Développement)  
National Farmers Union
The Ram’s Horn
The United Church of Canada
CADTM-France (Comité pour l’annulation de la dette du Tiers Monde)
CCFD-Terre Solidaire
Peuples Solidaires-ActionAid France
Réseau Foi & Justice Afrique Europe Antenne France
Agrecol e.V. (Associaton for AgriCulture & Ecology)
Bread for the World –  Protestant Development Service
Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung
Pesticide Action Network Germany
Agriculture Sovereignty Ghana (ASG)
Farmers Development Movement (FDM)
Food Sovereignty Ghana
General Agricultural Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress  
Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG)
KRuHA (People’s Coalition for the Right to Water)
ActionAid International
Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network
Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
Coalition for Equitable Land Acquisitions and Development in Africa (CELADA)
Compassion in World Farming
Corporate Europe Observatory
Fahamu Africa-Networks for Social Justice
Food & Water Europe
Friends of the Earth International
Grassroots International
Greenpeace Africa
La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa
Organisation des Jeunesses Panafricanistes (OJP)
Oxfam International
Panafricaine pour l’Éducation au Développement Durable (PAEDD)
Transnational Institute (TNI)
VECO West Africa
Terra Nuova
Growth Partners Africa -GPA
Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF)
Kenya Food Rights Alliance –KeFRA
Coalition of Women’s Farmers (COWFA)
ADECRU (Academic Action for the Development of Rural Communities)
Center For Environmental Education And Development
Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre
Hope Foundation for the Lonely
Justice, Development and Peace Centre, JDPC
WOFAN Women Famers
Enda Pronat
Fédération des ONG du Sénégal (FONGS – Action paysanne)
Forum social sénégalais (FSS)
Réseau Africain Pour le Droit à l’Alimentation (RAPDA)  
South Africa
Surplus People Project (South Africa)
Bread for all, the Development Service of the Protestant Churches in Switzerland
Green Belt Foundation
Irrigation Training and Economic Empowerment Organization – IRTECO
MVIWATA Kilimanjaro
Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO)
The Netherlands
Saka Mese Nusa AlifURU Foundation
Stichting Down2Earth
The Netherlands Centre for Indigenous Peoples
Friends of Earth-Togo
United Kingdom
Biofuelwatch – UK
Find Your Feet
Global Justice Now
Permaculture Association
Scientists for Global Responsibility
UK Food Group
Women’s Environmental Network (WEN)
World Family
United States of America
Africa Faith and Justice Network
Biofuelwatch – US
Bioscience Resource Project
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
Food & Water Watch
Friends of the Earth
Inclusive Development International
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy  
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Oakland Institute
Other Worlds
PLANT (Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples)
Washington Biotechnology Action Council
PELUM Association

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