African farmers’ movements and civil society groups have rejected the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition as part of a “new wave of colonialism” targeting their food systems for corporate profit.
The warning comes in a statement sent to G8 leaders today (3 June 2013) in advance of the ‘hunger summit’ to be hosted by David Cameron in London on 8 June, which will include a meeting of the New Alliance.
United Nations Photo
The New Alliance was launched by the G8 in May 2012 as a private sector investment platform for multinational corporations seeking to penetrate agricultural markets in Africa. Six African governments have already signed up to the initiative, with four more expected to join at the London hunger summit this week.
The African civil society statement notes: “Africa is seen as a possible new frontier to make profits, with an eye on land, food and biofuels in particular.” It notes that “blatant land grabs” backed by G8 powers such as the ProSavanna project in Mozambique are forcing farmers off their lands and destroying their livelihoods.
The African statement accuses the G8 of supporting multinational corporations like Yara, Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill in their quest to privatise African agriculture: “Private ownership of knowledge and material resources (for example, seed and genetic materials) means the flow of royalties out of Africa into the hands of multinational corporations.”
The statement calls for alternative strategies to protect sustainable agricultural techniques already in development across Africa which put household food security before corporate profits.
UK civil society groups have issued their own solidarity statement backing African farmers’ rejection of the New Alliance, in light of the dangers it poses to smallholder farmers and food security across the continent.
The UK statement, backed by over 25 campaign groups including War on Want, Friends of the Earth, The Gaia Foundation and the World Development Movement, calls on David Cameron to withhold the £395m in UK aid that has been pledged to the New Alliance over the next three years, in order to safeguard the farmers.
The statement notes: “The G8 has no legitimacy to intervene in matters of food, hunger and land tenure in Africa or any other part of the world.” It accuses the G8 of seeking to undermine the UN Committee on World Food Security, the democratic body mandated to work on issues of global food security and nutrition.
Kirtana Chandrasekaran of Friends of the Earth said:
It is unacceptably cynical of the G8 to pretend to be tackling hunger and land grabbing in Africa while backing a scheme that will ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands of small farmers. The G8’s New Alliance is a pro-corporate assault on African nations, requiring them to change their seed laws, trade laws and land ownership in order to prioritise corporate profits over local food needs. African civil society groups recognise the New Alliance is a poisoned chalice, and they are right to reject it.
Teresa Anderson of The Gaia Foundation said:
The UK public should not be bewitched by David Cameron’s aspiration to be crowned as Africa’s saviour. The New Alliance has bypassed democratic process in Africa and disregarded globally agreed solutions to tackling hunger. It Cameron and the G8 were sincere about helping to address food security in Africa, they would listen to the voices of the continent’s farmers, who have rejected the New Alliance and its corporate vision.