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Talking Points on Food and Agriculture

  • International agencies agree that small farmers are key to addressing poverty and food insecurity in Africa. But commercial monopolization of seeds and land grabs by both foreign and domestic investors make a mockery of international pledges to help small farmers. This replicates the takeover of land and agriculture by agribusiness in the United States and other rich countries.

  • Studies have found that attention to small farmers can be the most effective strategy for increasing food production and providing income to the rural population. But there are few effective controls on the rush of investment into land by speculators and commercial enterprises. Farmers who lose their land wait in vain for promised replacement jobs. In South Africa and Namibia, the issue of land distribution remains unresolved.

  • At the same time, multinational companies such as Monsanto, which monopolize the supply of commercial seeds and fertilizer, erode the independence of small farmers by pressuring governments to outlaw traditional practices of seed saving and sharing. The companies' monopolistic strategies are supported by public and private international donors, such as USAID and the Gates Foundation.

U.S.-based Monsanto is one of the largest global agribusiness companies. Its business relies on expanding commercial control over rights to seeds.

 

Recent bulletins on food and agriculture


AfricaFocus Bulletin

July 29, 2015  USA/Africa: Obama Visit Roundup
    In analyzing high-profile presidential visits, it is difficult to sort out symbolism from substance in the sheer volume of news coverage and commentary. And despite the flurry of announcement of "deals" at each stop, the main lines of policy are rarely altered and often reflect continuity not only within one presidential administration but also from one administration to another. The content of private conversations of lower-level officials as well as others involved in the visits may be just as significant as the formal meetings of presidents. Even more significant may be the issues not discussed because common assumptions go unquestioned on both sides.

July 21, 2015  Africa/Global: "Stop The Bleeding"
    With the exception of inclusion of a statement promising to address "illicit financial flows," the outcome document of the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa (July 13-16) broke little new ground. Significantly, rich countries vetoed action on a greater role for the United Nations in setting international tax standards, preserving that role for the club of the OECD countries dominated by the United States and Europe. But civil society momentum for more significant action is continuing to grow, as was marked by the launch of the "Stop The Bleeding" campaign at a continent-wide gathering in Nairobi in June.

July 14, 2015  Burundi: Diplomacy Falling Short
    As Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni travels to Burundi for yet another attempt to mediate in the crisis caused by the determination of President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in the elections now scheduled for July 21, it is clear that international diplomatic efforts are still failing to reverse increasing repression and escalation of violence. Despite multiple mediators and international declarations of concern, most recently calling for disarmament of the pro-government militias and commitment to a government of national unity, the incumbent president has good reason to conclude that he can continue to resist the pleas of his international critics as well as to repress internal opposition.

July 6, 2015  Africa/Global: People's Test on Climate
    With less than six months before this year's UN Climate Change conference in Paris, it is clear that commitments by governments to action on climate change will fall short of that necessary to keep global warming under the internationally agreed target of 2 degrees Celsius, despite recent new pledges by the United States, Brazil, and China (http://tinyurl.com/qhtfdk9; http://tinyurl.com/q8g3srl). But, beyond national governments, there are signs of growing momentum for more rapid "transformational" action. Particularly notable is the recognition that such action must simultaneously address economic inequality and development as well as the natural environment.

More on: politics&human rights|peace&security|health|economy|ict

AfricaFocus Archive: by date | by place | by topic

June 30, 2015  
    South Africa: Marikana Perspectives, 2
June 30, 2015  
    South Africa: Marikana Perspectives, 1
June 22, 2015  
    Africa: AIDS Struggle Continues
June 15, 2015  
    Eritrea: "Rule of Fear, Not Law"
June 2, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Capital Flows in Context
June 2, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Tax Justice & Inequality
May 25, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Africa, Race, and World Order
May 18, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Decarbonizing Development?
May 11, 2015  
    West Africa: Ebola Down But Not Out
May   5, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Renewables Gaining Ground
April 27, 2015  
    Burundi: On the Brink?
April 22, 2015  
    South Africa: Saying No to Xenophobia
April 14, 2015  
    Europe/Africa: Deaths at Sea
April 8, 2015  
    Garissa: Not Just Numbers
March 30, 2015  
    South Africa: Energy Futures Contested
March 23, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Swiss Connections

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