Agroecological Alternatives to the New Green Revolution for Africa
Outcome of a joint meeting on climate change, hunger, rural development and agroecological alternatives to the Green Revolution
held in Mali, Africa November 26th – December 2nd 2007
Food First collaborated with other organizations to bring more than 150 participants from 25 African countries and 10 non-African countries. Attendees including farmers, pastoralists, environmentalists, women, youth and development organizations, gathered at the Nyéléni Center in Selingue, Mali from November 26th to December 2nd. Field trips to area farms helped to inform the discussion on:
-- Climate change and agriculture, fisheries and pastoralism in Africa
-- The fight against hunger
-- Development aid for agriculture and rural development in Africa
-- African Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution.
Documents from the meetings are available at www.moreandbetter.org
The two-day conference organized by Food First focused on African Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution. A number of initiatives from multinational companies, foundations and politicians are pushing a “new green revolution” in Africa. One of them is Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). In 2006, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a joint $150 million Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to save Africa from hunger. AGRA is actually breaking ground for a larger network of chemical, seed, fertilizer companies and Green Revolution institutions seeking to industrialize African agriculture as they have already done in the U.S. and in large parts of Latin America and Asia. AGRA’s high-profile campaign for a new Green Revolution, headed by Kofi Annan, is designed to attract private investment, enroll African governments, and convince African farmers to buy hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers. AGRA is laying the foundation for researchers, institutions, and African farmers to introduce GMO crops—not only for rice, wheat and maize, but also for cassava, plantain and other African food crops.
The first Green Revolution introduced by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in 1960-1990 deepened the divide between rich and poor farmers and degraded tropical agro-ecosystems, exposing already vulnerable farmers to increased environmental risk. It led to loss of seed/plant varieties and agro-biodiversity, which is the basis for smallholder livelihood, security and regional environmental sustainability. While production per capita increased in Asia and Latin America, the percentage of hungry people increased even more. Because the Green Revolution responds to corporate interests, rather than the needs of African farmers, the new green revolution, based on an industrial model, is likely to worsen—not improve—the condition of Africa’s small farmers and to increase the number of hungry Africans.
The AGRA-led Green Revolution not only threatens the richness of African traditional agriculture, it ignores (and is attempting to co-opt) the many successful African agricultural alternatives including sustainable agriculture, agro-forestry, pastoralism, integrated pest management, farmer-led plant breeding, sustainable watershed management and many other agroecological approaches. Because AGRA is but one—highly visible component of a wider industrial push, attendees realized that they need to decide where to put their energies, and be prepared for the divisive nature of involvement with AGRA.
At its core, the Green Revolution undermines Africa’s food systems and food sovereignty: people’s right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.
There is an urgent need for information and public debate at local and national levels on the push for a “new Green Revolution.” We also have the right to transparency and accountability from AGRA and all Green Revolution institutions, including our own government and Green Revolution researchers. We need to work at the national level to mobilize, building on existing struggles against GMOs, agrofuels, and for food sovereignty. Sustainable agricultural alternatives are linked to socio-economic and political reforms.
We seek to advance a campaign for African alternatives to AGRA’s campaign for a new Green Revolution. These alternatives are locally rooted in local agroecosystems and struggles for food sovereignty. Farmer-to-farmer learning and research, grassroots information campaigns, and policies that support our agro-biodiversity and the rights of pastoralists, women farmers, and all small farmers are important pillars of this campaign.
The participants declared –We commit ourselves to:
1. advancing a campaign for African traditional, sustainable and agroecological alternatives to the Green Revolution
2. providing information and promoting public debate at local and national levels about the push for a “new Green Revolution”
3. demanding transparency and accountability from all Green Revolution institutions and seed, chemical and fertilizer companies.
Participants will share the discussions and information of the conferences with their organizations and networks. The real test of the significance of this week at the Nyéléni Centre will be what gets put into practice.
Documents from the conferences are available at www.moreandbetter.org
Organizers of the conference include:
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, African Centre for Biosafety, Climate Network Africa, Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysannes (CNOP – Mali), Development Fund (Norway), International Alliance Against Hunger, More and Better, IRPAD-Mali (Institut de recherche et de promotion des alternatives en développement), Terra Nuova (Italy), and Union Nacional de Camponeses Mozambique.