The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa will this week meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a workshop on strategies for resistance against genetically modified seed. AFSA is a pan-African platform comprising networks and farmer organisations working in Africa to represent the voices of small farmers and indigenous groups in relation to rights to local and equitable food.
The workshop is also expected to oppose Bill Gates’ Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the new G8 Alliance for food security.
In a statement, AFSA said it identified the global agricultural initiatives as part of an agenda to “corporatise” and profit from food production in Africa, rather than meet the needs of the continent and farmers.
The workshop, running under the theme “Strategy Building Workshop on Food Sovereignty and its challenges including AGRA, GMOs, Seed Laws and G8 New Alliance”, will be held from August 12-16.
AFSA co-ordinator Mr Million Belay said livelihoods of the continent’s small-scale farmers were under threat, often in the name of “development” and “poverty alleviation”.
He said the projects being run as developmental were meant to open up African agriculture to multinational agribusiness companies by means of national “co-operation frameworks” between African governments, donors and private sector investors, with no reference to the needs or wishes of African farmers.
AFSA chairperson Mr Bern Guri raised concern that there have never been a more co-ordinated 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 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,” he said.
Mr Guri said the combined effect of these initiatives was 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.
The Zimbabwean Government has always opposed the use of GMO seed. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, it is more important to concentrate on making available fertiliser, seed, irrigation and other essential farm inputs to boost food production rather than use cheaper but unsustainable means which have a detrimental impact on the environment.
According to experts while GMOs are cheaper to produce, they are costly in the long term as they contaminate the environment and harm biodiversity.
The ministry stated that it will continue to advocate for non-GMO farming to ensure sustainability in the agriculture sector.
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