lunes, diciembre 17, 2007

A new Green Revolution for Africa?

New from GRAIN
17 December 2007

A new Green Revolution for Africa?

A new briefing by GRAIN -

A new project, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is trying to put the concept of a new Green Revolution for Africa into operation. This new briefing by GRAIN aims to describe why AGRA won't work.

AGRA says its main objective is to help Africa to increase productivity for a number of major food crops, much like what was envisioned with the initial Green Revolution programmes. And once again, this is supposed to be done through Western-style plant breeding at the national agricultural research institutes. The difference being that this time a new crop of plant breeders will be trained in Africa itself, as opposed to being trained at universities in the North -- though Cornell University, the central institution of the early Green Revolution programmes, will be there to oversee the training.

In addition to training, another bottleneck to the successful establishment of the Green Revolution, as perceived by AGRA, is getting the new seeds to farmers. The solution proposed by AGRA is to build an infrastructure that facilitates the development of private seed companies. This is something that the Rockefeller Foundation and the World Bank have been trying to do for some time now, with little success.

One of AGRA's first steps is therefore to set up networks of "agro-dealers", to sell seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. AGRA has already hired a US NGO called Citizens' Network for Foreign Affairs to carry out this work in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. So far this US NGO has received around $14 million in grants, by far the largest recipient of AGRA funds to date. To supply the dealers, AGRA's donors are also funding private seed companies.

Meanwhile, in French-speaking Africa, AGRA is funding national agricultural research in Mali.

The idea is therefore to fund public breeders to develop new varieties (as the private sector does not want to do this), to fund private companies to sell these to farmers, and to provide credit to farmers for the purchase of these seeds (because otherwise they cannot pay for them). AGRA is all about creating an effective demand for its own product, prescribing a model of development that is not able to survive on its own.

Read the full briefing here:

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