Africa-U.S. Food Sovereignty Summit

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CAGJ’s AGRA Watch project hosted the Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit in Seattle October 10 – 14, 2014. The four-day meetings brought together a range of grassroots organizations, progressive funders, and international networks working towards food sovereignty in Africa and the United States.

The goal of the Summit was to deepen cooperation and develop a shared analysis of current public and private interventions in African agriculture, most notably by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. See here for media about the Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit.

During the meetings AGRA Watch provided a summary of our research examining the Gates Foundation’s agricultural development programs, including the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Afric (AGRA). African and US-based organizations shared the context of their work, the challenges they face, and the strategies they have adopted to resist corporate interventions and build resilient, agro-ecological agriculture and food sovereign communities.

Near the end of deliberations the organizations attending the Summit adopted a joint statement representing a commitment to working together as well as some concrete ideas for campaigns and work moving forward. Read the statement.

In addition to the four-day meetings, African participants were featured in a large public event held at Town Hall on Sunday, October 12, which included a reception, panel discussion and Q & A. The event, The Global Struggle for Food Sovereignty: A Discussion with African Food Leaders and Farmers drew an audience of over 400. The event created an opportunity for community members to interact with and hear from the Summit participants, and raised public awareness of the problems with the Gates Foundation’s intervention in African agriculture. See pictures and video of the event.

On the last day of the Summit, participants toured local urban and rural farms in the greater Seattle area as part of the Food Sovereignty Farm Tour. Our guests learned about the local food community while sharing ideas and making connections.

Moving Forward from the Summit- Tackling the GM Banana
As a result of the Summit, we recently have begun a joint struggle against the genetically engineered banana. The Gates Foundation has sunk $15 million into a “super banana” supposedly to improve levels of Vitamin A. But this techno-fix will simply flood the Ugandan market with GMOs and destroy the many heritage varietals of bananas that are central to Ugandan culture. Over 120 organizations sent an Open Letter to the Gates Foundation opposing the feeding trials. Recently, CAGJ authors were published in Third World Resurgence with an article about the ‘Super Banana’. Read more about our campaign here.

Africa-based Participants :

  • Mercia Andrews, Trust for Community Organization and Education, South Africa
  • Mariann Bassey, Friends of the Earth Africa
  • Million Belay, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and MELCA-Ethiopia
  • Daniel Maingi, Growth Partners Africa and Kenya Food Rights Alliance, Kenya
  • Mariam Mayet, African Centre for Biosafety, South Africa
  • Herschelle Milford, Surplus People Project and Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign, South Africa
  • Elizabeth Mpofu, ZIMSOFF, La Via Campesina Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Bridget Mugambe, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, Uganda

North America-based Participants:

  • Saulo Araujo, WhyHunger
  • Debbie Barker, Center for Food Safety
  • Ben Burkett, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, National Family Farm Coalition
  • Jahi Chappel, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  • Georgia Good, Rural Advancement Fund, Rural Coalition
  • Jim Goodman, Family Farm Defenders
  • Heather Gray, US Africa Network
  • Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition
  • Eric Holt-Gimenez, Food First
  • Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Pesticide Action Network North America
  • Sara Mersha, Grassroots International
  • Darcey O’Callaghan, Food & Water Watch
  • Kadiri Sennefer Ra, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
  • Karen Swift, Swift Foundation
  • Yeshica Weerasekera, International Development Exchange

AGRA Watch Team: Bill Aal, Phil Bereano, Matt Canfield, Janae Choquette, Heather Day, Travis English, John Fawcett-Long, Bobby Righi, Saba Samadani

Thank you to our Funders
Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, CS Fund, Helianthus Fund, Raghav Kaushik, Romi Mahajan and Parul Shah, RSF Small Planet Fund of RSF Social Finance, Swift Family Foundation, Gary Tabasinske