FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Simone Adler (215) 873-4672 [email protected]
Future of Food in Africa:
Local & Global Activists Bring Concerns to Gates Foundation
Followed by Discussion at Town Hall
SEATTLE, WA October 30, 2019 – Today at noon, local activists will gather at the headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to rally under the banner of “Agroecology for Climate Action.” Joining the rally will be Million Belay, Ethiopian expert on indigenous livelihoods, food and seed sovereignty, and activist research and author Timothy A. Wise. Seattle-based grassroots food justice organization, Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ), is organizing this rally to call attention to the world’s largest private foundation – the Gates Foundation – as the biggest funder of biotechnology programs in Africa. Belay and Wise will later engage in an evening discussion at Town Hall Seattle on climate change, farmers, and the future food, co-hosted by CAGJ and Town Hall Seattle.
Media is invited to all events. Please call Media Contact to request interviews and for press access to evening events.
Wednesday October 30th, 2019
12-1pm: Rally in Solidarity with African Food Sovereignty movement at Gates Foundation, 440 5th Ave
6-7pm: Pre-Event Reception (for media and special guests) at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave
7:30-9pm: Eating Tomorrow: The Battle for the Future of Food in Africa, A Conversation Between Million Belay & Timothy A. Wise
“The Gates Foundation launched AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, to steer the course of African agriculture toward biotechnology and reliance on hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers,” says Simone Adler, CAGJ Organizing Director who leads the AGRA Watch campaign. “The Gates’ high-tech, global market-oriented approach has lined the pockets of multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Bayer, and Cargill, while undermining small farmers’ ability to produce food for their own consumption or continue traditional seed saving across Africa.” The AGRA Watch campaign organizes in solidarity with the African food sovereignty movement, responding to a call for local organizing at the site of the world’s largest funder of neocolonial, corporate agriculture in Africa.
Million Belay is the Coordinator of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), whose members represent small holder farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples, citizens and environmentalists from Africa. He founded the indigenous organization MELCA-Ethiopia to promote agroecology and improve the livelihoods of local communities. “Agroecology is giving farmers the kinds of innovation they need, farming with nature to promote the soil-building practices that industrial agriculture often undermines,” says Belay. “Agroecology for Climate Action” is the rallying call of AFSA’s current campaign, launched earlier this year.
“Climate change continues to impact small-scale farmers across Africa with rising temperatures, severe droughts, and devastating storms,” says Timothy A. Wise, Senior Researcher at the Small Planet Institute and Tufts University and the author of Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food (New Press 2019). His new book documents the failures of international donors, including the Gates Foundation and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, to increase food production as agriculture is impacted by climate change. “The heavy use of commercial seeds and fossil-fuel intensive fertilizers may be making farmers even more vulnerable,” says Wise.
Belay and Wise’s work elevates the solutions coming from African farmers’ experiences on the land, including agroecological agriculture as a viable alternative to the fossil-fuel-intensive farming promoted by the Gates-funded new “green revolution” for Africa. At Town Hall, they will engage in a conversation about the impact of climate change on small-scale farmers across Africa, lifting up the evidence in AFSA’s recent case studies and in Wise’s new book that African farmers already have the solution their governments should be pursuing: soil-restoring ecological agriculture, and more diverse and healthy food crops that adapt farms to a rapidly changing climate.
Media is invited to attend the noon rally and evening events to hear directly from one of the most prominent African leaders in the food sovereignty movement. This is an opportunity to learn from field research about issues facing small-scale farmers in Africa, and the connection to these issues here in Seattle and the US (such as storms and flooding). Join to hear how ecological agriculture reduces farmers’ costs and eliminates dependence on agro-chemicals, hybrid seeds, and the corporations profiting from them.