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Study knocks AGRA, alleges its promises are untrue

A study that assessed activities of the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) has issued the agricultural organisation a negative report card.

Agnes Kalibata
Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA

Released on Monday, July 13, 2020, the study, titled: “False Promises: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa”, was published by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (South Africa and Germany), Biba (Kenya), Bread for the World (Germany), FIAN Germany, Forum on Environment and Development (Germany), INKOTA-netzwerk (Germany), IRPAD (Mali), PELUM Zambia, Tabio (Tanzania), and TOAM (Tanzania).

It documents what the groups describe as “dramatic negative impacts” of AGRA on small-scale food producers in the 13 African countries that the initiative focuses on. Some of them include Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Malawi.

AGRA was founded in 2006 to give new impetus to the fight against hunger in Africa with a corporate-driven “Green Revolution” approach. It promised to double the agricultural yields and incomes of 30 million small-scale food producer households by 2020, thus halving both hunger and poverty in the focus countries.

To achieve these goals, AGRA reportedly received over $1 billion – mainly from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but also from governments like the United States of America, United Kingdom and Germany.

But the study has criticised AGRA’s performances, saying that yield increases for key staple crops in the years before AGRA were just as low as during AGRA.

“Instead of halving hunger, the situation in the 13 focus countries has worsened since AGRA was launched. The number of people going hungry has increased by 30 percent during the AGRA years,” remarked Johannesburg-based Nokutula Mhene, Programme Manager, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, in a statement made available to EnviroNews on Monday.

The study, continued Mhene, also “shows that AGRA harms small-scale food producers, for example by subjecting them to high levels of debt”, adding that, in Zambia and Tanzania, small-scale food producers were unable to repay the loans for fertiliser and hybrid seeds after the first harvest.

Mhene added: “AGRA projects also restrict the freedom of choice for small-scale food producers to decide for themselves what they want to grow. This has dramatic effects on crop diversity. AGRA’s focus is on the one-sided cultivation of maize. The cultivation of traditional climate-resistant and nutrient-rich crops have thus declined.

“According to the study, millet production fell by 24 percent in the 13 AGRA focus countries from 2006 to 2018. Moreover, AGRA lobbies governments on behalf of agricultural corporations to pass legislation that will benefit fertiliser producers and seed companies instead of strengthening small-scale food production and alternative structures.

“The publishers of the study conclude, among other things, that governments in the Global North and Global South must withdraw from AGRA and all other Green Revolution programmes. Instead, they should support more sustainable, holistic approaches such as agroecology. Agroecology focuses on the needs of small-scale food producers, their human right to food, and their food sovereignty.

“We thank the friends, partners and allies who provided information to make this publication possible. We hope that it can be of use to others in efforts to struggle against AGRA and other Green Revolution programmes.”

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