Blog post by AGRA Watch Intern Connor Nakamura
CAGJ recently signed on to a declaration on the African-European Union partnership drafted by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), of which CAGJ became a member in 2018.
African civil society organizations previously acknowledged recent EU-driven processes for rural transformation for their focus on “Africa’s huge diversity and consequent need for context-specific locally driven solutions.” However, there have still been serious issues left unaddressed, including the corporate capture of food systems and environmental degradation.
These concerns were exacerbated in the subsequent partnership where “the 2020 EU Strategy with Africa seems to have lost touch with this agenda altogether, failing to address agriculture and food systems but rather concentrating on creating a conducive environment for large scale private sector business interests.” AFSA states:
While smallholder farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk and forest communities dominate the demographics of rural Africa, the policy spaces are crowded by external actors: philanthropists, businesses, multilateral and bilateral aid agencies.
As a result, most countries across the continent have been induced – often by Northern initiatives based on private investment and public private partnerships – to subsidise an external-input based, export-oriented, commodity monocrop model of agricultural development, and to rely heavily on the transfer of land for timber, oil, gas and mineral exploitation to generate foreign exchange, often without or despite environmental impact assessment.
AFSA emphasizes that land and agriculture are viewed differently in Africa than in Europe. Unlike in Europe and the Global North, food is not viewed as a commodity in Africa, but rather as a basic human right. Agriculture also has the potential for positive social change as it “is an important entry point for interventions that can potentially deliver an array of benefits, including improved food and nutrition security, environmental benefits and resilience to climate change.”
Therefore the declaration calls on policy makers to design agreements based on agroecology and food sovereignty. First, there must be democratic decision-making that includes civil society organizations. Additionally, small-scale family farming and agroecology needs to be considered a viable model for agricultural development in order to be culturally appropriate and sustainable. Lastly, they emphasize that policies must be created to prevent the commodification and land grabs of multinational corporations.
Read the full declaration here