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  • Members of Abrono Organic Farming Project (ABOFAP) in their organic chilli farm near Techiman, Ghana, April 29, 2015.

    Members of Abrono Organic Farming Project (ABOFAP) in their organic chilli farm near Techiman, Ghana, April 29, 2015. | Photo: Global Justice Now

Published 3 June 2015

Civil society groups are calling for radical change to African agriculture to put control back in the hands of small farmers.

A coalition of almost 100 social movements, grassroots groups, and civil society organizations are raising alarm about the New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition meeting secretively in Cape Town, South Africa, and are calling for governments to withdraw support for initiative.

The G8-led, agribusiness-funded New Alliance is pushing for the approval of laws in 10 African countries that favor agricultural giants like Monsanto at the expense of small farmers and local food security.

According to a statement by the civil society coalition Wednesday, policies supported by the New Alliance “facilitate the grabbing of land and other natural resources, further marginalize small-scale producers, and undermine the right to adequate food and nutrition.”

An example of New Alliance's corporate-friendly policy is Ghana's proposed Plant Breeders Bill, or so-called “Monsanto Law,” which would effectively tighten the corporate control of seeds and limit the traditional ability of small farmers to save and share seeds.

Other New Alliance-backed proposals in Nigeria and Tanzania threaten to displace thousands of small farmers in massive agribusiness landgrabs to make way for foreign-owned corporate plantations.

RELATED: Nigerian Farmers Displaced by US Company's Land Grab

Despite the New Alliance claiming a commitment to “reducing poverty and hunger,” its policies actually exacerbate hunger by slashing the rights and access to resources of Africa's small-scale producers for the benefit of foreign agribusiness corporations since it was launched in 2012.

“The New Alliance is not addressing hunger or food security, but it is providing huge opportunities for big agribusiness companies to restructure food production across Africa to their own advantage,” said African Center for Biosafety Director Mariam Mayet in statement.

“Countries in Africa need to develop their own agricultural policies that are effective in meeting the needs of small scale farmers and food sovereignty, rather than being cajoled into having big industrialized agriculture imposed on them through coercive aid mechanisms like the New Alliance,” Mayet added.

Last month, an independent audit on U.K. foreign aid slammed the New Alliance, characterizing it as “little more than a means of promotion for the companies involved and a chance to increase their influence in policy debates.” In 2013, over 100 African civil society groups called the New Alliance a “new wave of colonialism” opening African markets to transfer agricultural control away from local farmers into the hands of transnational corporations.

The growing opposition to the New Alliance has called for all G7 and African countries to drop its support for the New Alliance in favor of pursuing policies and programs that genuinely enhance food security and food sovereignty and promote the rights of small farmers to use and control their own resources.

Small-scale agricultural producers are estimated to provide 70 percent of the world's food supply. The United Nations has said that traditional agroecological farming practices and small-scale agriculture are key to feeding the world in the face of global climate crisis.

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