Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Aid Fed Agriculture:Good Intentions Not Enough!

Sometimes our best intentions cause more harm than good~Good Fortune Film

Have you ever stopped to consider the effects (both positive or negative) of aid fed agriculture ? Well in my case, negative effect is what comes in to picture when anyone in social media talks of the G8 Global Agriculture and Food Security Symposium held  last month at Washington DC. It seems to be the greatest talk in the agriculture arena since governments and world richest nations abandoned all their commitments in a bid to help end world hunger and Africa in particular by diverting funding  to chemically related causes and biotechnology in the context of Africa's farming  with Tanzania,Ethiopia and Ghana being first experimental choices.

According to the G8 leaders,for them to feed the bulging world population,investment in African agriculture needs to be scaled up.It might be a superb idea to some but to me the how and why questions come streaming in. Checking the full symposium proceedings and subsequent commentaries HERE, you will realize a few funding elements like these appearing.(I am hoping you know some background information  to these organisations and if not just Google or ask)

  • Monsanto the largest GMO seed producer in the world will be investing $50 million in Africa to support agricultural development with initial working plans in Tanzania to develop a corn that uses less water.
  • Cargill will invest its amount on two projects in Mozambique with the aim of training and educatingsmall scale  farmers on how to increase their grain farm yields.
  • Syngenta company will invest more than$50 million in africa with the expectations of building its base of 1 billion users in Africa.
  • Yara a Norwegian Company is investiong $20 million to help construct a fertilizer port in Tanzania to help it expand its fertilizer delivery all over southern Africa.

These are just a few of the notable examples that don't care any bit about sustainable agriculture.Don't be fooled by their sugar coated websites.A majority of these international corporations  are out to Scramble for any fertile African land and markets.With time small scale farmers,the bulk of most African economies, will be kicked out of the markets as they won't be able to afford chemicals,GMO seeds and fertilizers to keep their farm production going not forgetting the distorted supply markets.

Who tells Obama,Bill Gates, Monsanto,G8 leaders that solutions to hunger in Africa lies solely  in the hands of chemically intensive agriculture and biotechnology? Why should they overlook major  issues that affect African agriculture just to mention a few  like:
~Lack of access to water leading to over dependent on rain fed agriculture which with climate change onset has become so unreliable.
~Lack of access to arable land amongst many small scale farmers.The available ones ,they are already scrambling for them.
~Massive food wastage and  losses due to poor post harvest handling means.
~ Use of fertilizers in farms and expensive inputs that farmers can't afford to pay for.Its notable that most of the farmers in Africa operate on a small scale basis.

Unless issues like these are looked in to, the pledges made at the symposium will deem fit to benefit the spread of these industries and their produce in the whole of Africa and sustainable agriculture will be a forgotten thing. 

If the G8 are to give agricultural aid, it would be nice to give aid that will in the end eliminate dependency on more and more aid.Looking at the G8 symposium can you see their end from the beginning?And most important,what are you doing about it?

Lest We Forget!
 Sometime back in 2010 i remember reading about the Good Fortune Film  in the local dailies.Somehow i lost its track but i have its link back all thanks to my tweep Harry Chamberlain. This is an Emmy winning documentary film that focusses on exploring how international efforts to undermine poverty may be undermining the communities they so want to help.Watch the trailer below and read a sample on the about page of the film too. Check the official WEBSITE too.

A Sample "About" from the Documentary 


Jackson is grazing his cattle through the lush grasses of the Yala swamp. The sun is rising and a pale orange light reflects off of the marsh. As he pushes his herd across a quiet river, Jackson makes a startling discovery. The once fertile wetland has been slashed and burned, leaving only charred papyrus stalks and stagnant pools of water.
Dominion Farms LTD, an Oklahoma-based agricultural corporation, is clearing the wetland to construct a reservoir to irrigate its massive rice paddies. Dominion CEO Calvin Burgess first came to the area on a mission trip with his church and says the area’s poverty inspired him to invest millions of dollars in a commercial farm to stimulate the local economy.
But for Jackson’s family, and over 500 families like his, the Dominion project could destroy everything they have. The proposed reservoir will flood over 1100 acres of grazing land, homes, local markets, schools, and clinics. Jackson’s home, where generations of his family were born and buried, will soon be underwater. “Is this development?” Jackson asks, “Or poverty creation?”
Jackson provides for all 25 members of his family using relatively simple, subsistence-farming methods, but he is anything but simple-minded. He is, in fact, a highly educated individual who volunteers as a local schoolteacher because he feels that the key to improving his community is education. Jackson is also a staunch environmentalist who appreciates the vital importance of the Yala swamp to the local ecology. When Dominion threatens to take control of the area’s greatest natural resource, Jackson prepares to fight.
He discovers that Dominion is seizing over five times the land granted in their original contract and using harmful chemicals that are poisoning the community’s water supply. The community seeks the help of international NGOs, stages public demonstrations, and petitions the government to intervene. But even after they convince Kenya’s environmental protection agency to issue a cease and desist order, the floodwaters continue to rise.
“They said it couldn’t be done, but it has been done,” Dominion CEO Calvin Burgess beams into a microphone. The dam is now complete and Dominion is celebrating with great fanfare; they’ve drawn a large crowd, brought in entertainers, fireworks, and rallied local politicians around the $20 million dollar project. One member of Parliament—who happens to be the former director of Dominion—addresses the crowd: “I want to say here and in broad daylight, that anything that will stand in the way of this project shall be met with the resistance and full force that it deserves.”
A few months later, record rainfalls are pounding the Yala swamp. Dominion’s reservoir rises across the road and spills into Jackson’s homestead. The water submerges Jackson’s property, and their homes begin to collapse. All of Jackson’s goats and sheep are killed, and the cattle begin to experience strange illnesses, dying off one by one. Jackson is forced to rent a small room in a nearby town. “They destroyed everything,” he exclaims.

But even after the flood, Jackson is not defeated. He helps organize the community to take legal action against Dominion. Whether Jackson will win his battle to save the swamp or be forced to leave his ancestral home remains to be seen."

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