To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

December 30, 2010

Seattle-led coalition tells Gates Foundation to change approach to agriculture in Africa

by Kristi Heim

A coalition of groups led by Seattle-based activists has sent a letter and online petition to the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, saying its current approach to agriculture in Africa is unlikely to solve problems of hunger, poverty and climate change, and may make them worse.

The letter, signed by 100 organizations and individuals from 30 countries, was released to coincide withprotests at the UN climate talks in Cancun.

Led by the Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ), the coalition said the foundation and its private sector partners are pushing industrialized agriculture and genetically engineered crops at the expense of small farmers and the environment.

The Gates Foundation has made agricultural development one of its priorities in recent years, launching theAlliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) with the Rockefeller Foundation in 2006.

The Gates Foundation spent about $316 million last year on agricultural development, which it says is part of a larger strategy to reduce hunger and poverty by giving small farmers tools and opportunities to boost their productivity and increase incomes.

The groups signing the letter, including environmentalists, academics and groups opposed to genetic engineering of food crops, said they're concerned the foundation's grants are "heavily distorted in favor of supporting inappropriate high-tech agricultural activities, ignoring scientific studies that confirm the value of small-scale agroecological approaches."

The Gates Foundation responded that it's working comprehensively and with many partners, including African leaders and small farmers.

"Our goal is to help poor farmers grow and sell more so they can feed their families and build better lives," foundation spokesperson Susan Byrnes said. "This is an extremely complex challenge - and there's no silver bullet."

Byrnes said approach is to support seeds, soil, farm management and effective policies. "We're in this for the long haul and only interested in long-term solutions that are sustainable for the economy and the environment."

The petition urged the foundation to redefine its funding priorities in favor of small-scale agroecological agriculture, citing the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), initiated by the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

That report concluded that a radical transformation of world food and farming policies is needed, and reliance on technological fixes, including transgenic crops, is unlikely to address persistent hunger and poverty.

Industrial agribusiness has contributed to the erosion of food and livelihood security in the
poorest countries, it said.


Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP