In a petition to the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, some 176 organisations from 83 countries are kicking against the nomination of AGRA president, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, as envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit
Dear Secretary-General Guterres,
We, the undersigned 176 organisations from 83 countries, write to condemn and reject the appointment of Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), as your Special Envoy to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.
With 820 million people hungry and an escalating climate crisis, the need for significant global action is urgent to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Given the history of AGRA, the appointment of its President to lead, prepare, and design the Summit, will result in another forum that advances the interests of agribusiness at the expense of farmers and our planet.
Founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, AGRA’s efforts have centered on capturing and diverting public resources to benefit large corporate interests. Their finance-intensive and high input agricultural model is not sustainable beyond constant subsidy, which is drawn from increasingly scarce public resources. Since 2006, AGRA has worked to open up Africa – seen as an untapped market for corporate monopolies controlling commercial seeds, genetically modified crops, fossil fuel-heavy synthetic fertilisers and polluting pesticides. This is an ill-conceived approach focused on mono cultural commodity production by large agribusiness at the expense of sustainable livelihoods, human development, and poverty eradication.
Ignoring the past failures of the Green Revolution and industrial agriculture, AGRA continues to promote the same, orienting farmers into global value chains for the export of standardised commodities. Vast power imbalances in these global chains means multinational grain traders, silo owners, transport companies, feed manufacturers, and financial institutions extract and retain the majority of value for themselves, while farmers remain trapped in cycles of poverty and debt.
Furthermore, this model of fossil fuel-based industrial agriculture is laying waste to the environment. Synthetic fertilisers are responsible for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen from these fertilizers is poorly absorbed by plants, and subsequently leaches into water systems and escapes into the atmosphere in the form of nitrous oxide. Long distance transport adds carbon emissions. Family farmers, pastoralists, and Indigenous communities, who are the stewards of the land and guardians of agricultural biodiversity, are marginalized and forced off their land, replaced by pesticide-reliant monocultures.
If the Food Systems Summit truly aims to “generate
momentum, expand the knowledge and share experience and approaches worldwide to
unleash the benefits of food systems for all people,” Agnes Kalibata is unfit
and the wrong candidate to lead it. The world must shift gears on food and
agriculture in order to tackle the major challenges of our time. Beyond
increasing agricultural yields, we must produce and consume better. We need
diversified and nutritious crops, produced in a truly sustainable manner,
preserving and restoring the health and fertility of our soils, managing our water efficiently, ensuring resilience to climatic shocks, and providing adequate food and income to family farmers. Mrs. Kalibata’s appointment is a deliberate attempt to silence the farmers of the world who feed, nurture, and protect the planet.
As stated by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, the priority should be to strengthen food sovereignty, the fight against climate change and the conservation of biodiversity. This requires a rapid transition from corporate-dominated industrial agriculture to family farms working in harmony with nature and maintaining diverse ecosystems. Agroecology is a practical solution for systemic change to ensure dignified rural livelihoods and the right to healthy food and nutrition for all, while freeing farmers from cycles of debt and dependency.
AGRA and Mrs. Kalibata, who also sits on the board of the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC), are puppets of agro-industrial corporations and their shareholders. Led by Mrs. Kalibata, the Summit will be nothing but a tool for further corporate predation on the people and natural systems.
We therefore call on you to immediately revoke Mrs. Kalibata’s appointment.