AGRA Watch is a campaign of Community Alliance for Global Justice. The mission of AGRA Watch is to challenge the dominant development ideology pushed by governments, corporations, and “private” philanthropic actors as they try to expand our corporate-driven, industrial model of agriculture into Africa. Chief among these “private” actors are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and their subsidiary, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
AGRA Watch works with partner organizations in Africa and the US to support sustainable, agroecological, socially responsible, and indigenous alternatives on the continent. Together, we are creating a network to connect global movements to those in our local communities and facilitate the exchange of information concerning sustainable and healthy agricultural policies and practices across continents.
“You come. You buy the land. You make a plan. You build a house. Now you ask me, what color do I want to paint the kitchen? This is not participation!” – Simon Mwamba, East African Small-Scale Farmers’ Federation at a forum on AGRA
Our Campaign Objectives
- Create a thriving global network of farmers, activists and scholars that a) shares knowledge about the impacts of AGRA and the Gates Foundation in Africa, and tracks their impacts and b) shares information about sustainable practices that are alternatives to industrial models in Africa.
- Expose and challenge the dominant development ideology that the BMGF practices and promotes.
- Provide support and facilitate mutual exchange of information and experiences concerning sustainable and healthy agriculture policies and practices.
- Build membership in AGRA Watch and mobilize support for the campaign around the region, throughout the US, and across the globe.
- Coordinating international campaigns that grew out of the Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit hosted by AGRA Watch in October 2014
- Building awareness through local, national, and international media of the negative impacts of the Gates Foundation’s agricultural development programs
- Conducting original research on the Gates Foundation as a non-State actor in the global development machine, connected to global seed banks, trade and development policy, and corporate agendas
- Conducting detailed research into relevant grants from the Gates Foundation and AGRA
- Offering workshops to build more critical perception of the Gates Foundation and AGRA in our community
- Participating in Seattle area and global coalitions supporting food sovereignty
- Doing research on all grants from AGRA and the Gates Foundation (2009-present) regarding African agriculture to ascertain patterns, objectives, effects on grantees (including reports, if any) etc. We are the only entity outside the Foundation that is taking such a holistic look at this funding.
- Conducting research on the international law aspects of biopiracy—the legal mechanisms of providing “access” by the North to Southern genetic resources, and the yet-to-be realized program of “benefit sharing” for the South.
- Hosted Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit in October 2014
- CAGJ awarded Food Sovereignty Prize, Honorable Mention in 2009, the first year the prize was awarded (when La Via Campesina won the Prize), in part because of AGRA Watch organizing
- Exposed the Gates Foundation’s $23.1 million purchase of Monsanto stock as well as numerous other connections to Monsanto; Seattle’s Monsanto March targeted Gates Foundation headquarters due to awareness of these connections
- Research featured in major articles in The Nation, Third World Resurgence, YES! Magazine, and African media
- Wrote letters to the editors of several publication; placed op-eds in the Seattle Times
- Organized panels with African partners at the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartegena Biosafty Protocol, Nagoya in Fall 2010 and at the African Studies Association in 2010 and 2011
- Offered short courses on AGRA, GMOs, and sustainable agriculture
- Supported research by university interns
- Provided speakers to various events, rallies and marches
“GM nitrogen fixing crops are not the answer to improving the fertility of Africa’s soils. African farmers are the last people to be asked about such projects. This often results in the wrong technologies being developed, which many farmers simply cannot afford. We need methods that we can control aimed at building up resilient soils that are both fertile and able to cope with extreme weather. We also want our knowledge and skills to be respected and not to have inappropriate solutions imposed on us by distant institutions, charitable bodies or governments.”
– Mariam Mayet, African Centre for Biosafety in South Africa
August 26, 2022: In light of recent discourses, we wish to clarify that we strongly object to baseless conspiracy theories about Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation, which detract from our research and organizing focused on his role in wider structures of power. Over the past 15 years, we have gathered evidence and worked with other research and advocacy organizations to demonstrate problems with the Gates Foundation’s approach to agricultural development. More recently, we have also organized in support of making COVID vaccines (whose effectiveness and safety are widely supported by the scientific consensus) accessible to all countries and people. We believe that it is important to criticize the pharmaceutical industry, mainstream philanthropy, and corporate consolidation—but to do so in a way that is based on evidence, rooted in ideas of social justice, and focused on challenging structural causes.
Read our full position statement on these issues here