This week the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) will come together in Ethiopia to discuss strategies for resistance against genetically modified seed, Bill Gate’s Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the new G8 Alliance for food security. AFSA have identified these initiatives as part of a global agenda to ‘corporatise’ and thereby profit from African agriculture, rather than meet the needs of African communities and farmers. World-renowned campaigner Dr Vandana Shiva will join the meeting.

The workshop, entitled ‘Strategy building workshop on Food sovereignty and its challenges including AGRA, GMOs, Seed laws and G8 New Alliance’ will be held in Addis Ababa from 12 – 16 August 2013. It’s being organised by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, a pan African network established in 2009 to represent the voices of small farmers and indigenous groups in relation to rights to local and equitable food.

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“Now more than ever we are finding the livelihoods of the continent’s small-scale farmers increasingly under threat, often in the name of “development” and “poverty alleviation”. The latest of these is New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition”, a private sector investment initiative launched by the G8 in May 2012. Its objective is to open up African agriculture to multinational agribusiness companies by means of national ‘cooperation frameworks’ between African governments, donors and private sector investors, with no reference to the needs or wishes of African farmers. It is strongly linked to other private sector initiatives, such as the corporate ‘Grow Africa Partnership’ and the Bill Gates’ Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa(AGRA). It is implemented in a variety of ways, including through the Comprehensive African Agriculture Programme (CAADP), and a new wave of initiatives looking to gain intellectual property rights over the continent’s crops and seed varieties.” Says AFSA coordinator Million Belay.

“Never before has there been a more coordinated and better funded attempt to transform Africa’s peasant based agriculture into a commercial enterprise. These initiatives are taking place without any consultation with farmers in Africa. Indeed, they pointedly ignore the millions of smallholder farmers in Africa who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, with the vast majority, using farm-saved seed to ensure their food security. The combined effect of these initiatives is to hand over Africa’s food and seed sovereignty to foreign corporations, reducing the availability of local plant varieties, weakening Africa’s rich biodiversity, and denying millions of farmers the right to breed and share crops needed to feed their families.” Adds Bern Guri, Chair of AFSA.

The workshop was coordinated as an urgent response to identify and develop strategies from the side of African farmers and civil society organisations to counter this agenda and promote strategies based on agro-ecological and food sovereignty principles.