Next week the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) will come together in Ethiopia to discuss strategies for resistance against genetically modified seed, Bill Gate?s Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the new G8 Alliance for food security. AFSA have identified these initiatives as part of a global agenda to ?corporatise? and thereby profit from African agriculture, rather than meet the needs of African communities and farmers. World-renowned campaigner Dr Vandana Shiva will join the meeting.

The workshop, entitled ?Strategy building workshop on Food sovereignty and its challenges including AGRA, GMOs, Seed laws and G8 New Alliance? will be held in Addis Ababa from 12 ? 16 August 2013. It?s being organised by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, a pan African network established in 2009 to represent the voices of small farmers and indigenous groups in relation to rights to local and equitable food.

?Now more than ever we are finding the livelihoods of the continent?s small-scale farmers increasingly under threat, often in the name of ?development? and ?poverty alleviation?. The latest of these is ?New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition?, a private sector investment initiative launched by the G8 in May 2012. Its objective is to open up African agriculture to multinational agribusiness companies by means of national ?cooperation frameworks? between African governments, donors and private sector investors, with no reference to the needs or wishes of African farmers. It is strongly linked to other private sector initiatives, such as the corporate ‘Grow Africa Partnership’ and the Bill Gates’ Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). It is implemented in a variety of ways, including through the Comprehensive African Agriculture Programme (CAADP), and a new wave of initiatives looking to gain intellectual property rights over the continent?s crops and seed varieties.? Says AFSA coordinator Million Belay.

?Never before has there been a more coordinated and better funded attempt to transform Africa’s peasant based agriculture into a commercial enterprise. These initiatives are taking place without any consultation with farmers in Africa. Indeed, they pointedly ignore the millions of smallholder farmers in Africa who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, with the vast majority, using farm-saved seed to ensure their food security. The combined effect of these initiatives is to hand over Africa?s food and seed sovereignty to foreign corporations, reducing the availability of local plant varieties, weakening Africa?s rich biodiversity, and denying millions of farmers the right to breed and share crops needed to feed their families.? Adds Bern Guri, Chair of AFSA.

The workshop was coordinated as an urgent response to identify and develop strategies from the side of African farmers and civil society organisations to counter this agenda and promote strategies based on agro-ecological and food sovereignty principles.

Extract taken from an earlier statement from AFSA:

Initiatives including the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and the New Alliance for Food Security threaten to have the following impact:

? Agricultural and food policies geared to corporate interests. All of the highlighted initiatives point in the same direction: handing over the responsibility to feed Africa to the corporations. Together the New Alliance and the Grow Africa partnership co-opt the agenda of the CAADP towards corporate agendas. AGRA does the same, and African governments are asked to provide the proper legislative framework (such as IPRs) to facilitate the transition
? Promotion of industrial agriculture and the ?Green Revolution?. The kind of food production envisioned by these initiatives are strongly biased towards the industrialization of agriculture, relying on hybrid seeds, GMOs, and increased use of fertilizer and pesticides ? as well as on mechanized large scale farming. Rather than being supported, small farmers a being thrown off their land. Rather than incorporate available knowledge and experience of farmers, they give the impression that the majority of the farmers are not needed anymore.
? Allowing Africa’s genetic heritage to be privatised by a handful of multinational corporations, while undermining the contribution and role of local seed diversity and exchange networks.
? And perhaps the most important of all: yet another missed opportunity to support Africa’s farmers to grow enough food, to promote agro-ecological approaches that don’t harm the environment, and to take the right steps in the direction of food sovereignty.
The workshop will come up with a clear strategy to counter the forces that are going to destabilize African agriculture and identify and promote

Who is AFSA?

The ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA (AFSA) is a Pan African platform comprising networks and farmer organisations working in Africa including the African Biodiversity network (ABN), Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, Friends of the Earth- Africa, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association, Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers? Forum (ESSAFF), La Via Campesina Africa , FAHAMU, World Neighbours, Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA), Community Knowledge Systems (CKS), Plate forme Sous R?gionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC) and African Centre for Biosafety (ACB).

AFSA members represent small holder farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples, citizens and environmentalists from Africa who possess a strong voice that shapes policy on the continent in the area of community rights, family farming, promotion of traditional knowledge and knowledge systems, the environment and natural resource management. Thus, providing a forum to analyse, discuss issues, challenge policies and identify ways forward.

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