Small-Scale Farmers Cool the Planet!
CAGJ Supports Gates Divest: Community Alliance for Global Justice salutes the Gates Divest campaign and the Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign for urging the Gates Foundation to join the fossil fuel divestment movement. Gates Divest is demanding that the Gates Foundation divest from fossil fuels by the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris on November 30th, 2015.
However, simply divesting from fossil fuels is not enough. In the fight against climate change, the Gates Foundation can and should do more.
They must also divest from agribusiness, cease to partner with agribusiness in Africa, and instead support agroecology to achieve food sovereignty.
Our current global food system, imposed on people by transnational corporations, is one of the main causes of the human-induced climate crisis. This system, characterized by farming with industrial fertilizers and pesticides, fossil fuels to run machinery, large manure pools from feed lots, clearing forests and transporting food globally, is estimated to be responsible for 44-57% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The Gates Foundation promotes this devastating system in Africa.
The Gates Foundation is heavily involved in funding agricultural development in Africa through AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) and other programs. Their funds go towards strengthening the agrobusiness model, and pushing small farmers into the international market where they will lose control of their products and have no voice in prices. While the Gates Foundation talks of increasing farmer productivity through biotechnology, this will in reality tie farmers to subsidized GMO seed, and increase their dependency on the transnational corporations selling the seeds.
We call on the Gates Foundation to support Agroecology & Food Sovereignty
What alternative exists to the agrobusiness model supported by the Gates Foundation? The production practices of agroecology, which include intercropping, traditional fishing and mobile pastorialism, integrating crops, trees, livestock and fish, manuring, compost, local seeds and animal breeds. Agroecology is based on ecological principles such as building life in the soil, recycling nutrients, the dynamic management of biodiversity and energy conservation at all scales. Agroecology drastically reduces our use of externally-purchased outputs that must be bought from industry. There is no use of agrotoxics, artificial hormones, GMOs or other dangerous new technologies.
Agroecology goes hand in hand with food sovereignty by giving smallholder farmers autonomy that displaces the control of global markets and generates self-governance by communities.
How do agroecology and food sovereignty fight climate change?
Small-scale, traditional peasant agricultural models associated with food sovereignty, including agroecology, reduce the effects of climate change in the following ways:
Small-scale agriculture takes care of the soil: Excess CO2 in the atmosphere from industrial agriculture can be put back into the soil through sustainable, traditional farming techniques.
- No chemicals: Fertilizers and pesticides used in industrial agriculture deplete the soil of its nutrients, while organic agriculture and agroecological production techniques improve soil fertility and prevents erosion.
- Emphasis on local foods: Global food trade is associated with greenhouse gas emissions from transport and processing, while small-scale agriculture focuses on local markets.
- Redistribution of land from industrial agriculture plantations to small farmers: Small-scale farmers produce food more efficiently and can contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
- Forgo false solutions! “Climate Smart Agriculture”, GMO crops, carbon markets, and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programs are empty promises in terms of reducing climate change in the long-term and ensuring worldwide food security.
Challenge the Gates Foundation’s agrobusiness model of agricultural development! Agroecology and food sovereignty are real solutions that fight climate change and respect smallholder farmers’ autonomy!
Text from 2015 Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, and La Via Campesina and GRAIN’s “Food sovereignty: 5 steps to cool the planet and feed its people”.
Join AGRA Watch as we hold the Gates Foundation accountable for its promise to support small-scale farmers!
Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch – Seattle, WA