Food Sovereignty essential as Climate Change solution for African farmers.

PRESS RELEASE Monday 5 December 2011
Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)

African farmer and civil society groups in Africa are celebrating the launch of a “network of African networks”, called the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). They have released a report emphasising that Food Sovereignty can cool the planet, while feeding the world and regenerating ecosystems.

“There are so many challenges facing our continent,” says Anne Maina of the African Biodiversity Network (ABN), one of AFSA’s member networks. “As 14 PanAfrican networks, representing a huge constituency in Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa, we are in agreement that Food Sovereignty must be way forward to ensure resilient food systems and ecosystems in the face of climate change and destructive development.”

“Food Sovereignty is an approach to agriculture that is radical, but it is self-evident too. It holds the interests of small-scale food producers, their communities and ecosystems, as critical to strengthening resilient food systems. For too long, food policy has focused on yield at any cost – and undermined the very systems and people on which food production depends. Food Sovereignty is a powerful concept and framework that is clear about embracing solutions, and challenging the threats,” said Million Belay of MELCA-Ethiopia, an Ethiopian member of ABN.

Officially launched on Sunday 4th December, AFSA began amid joyful singing from African women farmers; sobering facts about the multiple threats from climate change and false solutions such as the Bill Gates-funded Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), GMOs, biofuel land grabbing and carbon trading; and inspiring discussions about agroecological solutions for food, farmers and biodiversity.

“The Alliance for Food Sovereignty is working to promote agroecology as a solution to climate change, feeding people, biodiversity, livelihoods and healing the soils. It is about using and conserving the resources that are freely available to communities. These are appropriate for our economies, and our small scale farmers, who don’t need the expensive chemical inputs that are being pushed on us.” Said Agnes Yawe of Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM), a network with members in 10 countries.

Mphatheleni Makaulule, indigenous community leader from The Mupo Foundation in Venda in the North of South Africa, and a member of ABN, emphasises the importance of indigenous wisdom, and how her community sees the challenge of climate change and harmful development. “We cannot have health in a sick climate. In our territories, the soil, water and indigenous forest is already in disorder, and that affects the ecosystem. The indigenous seeds from the indigenous knowledge are our hope to adapt with this climate change, and this is why we want food sovereignty.

“Our lands and community in Venda are now faced with being destroyed by a huge open cast coal mine. This will finish our last remaining water, and kill our last indigenous trees and sacred sites. But these are the richest ecosystems, and they bring the rain. This mining is going to make climate change worse. We cannot guarantee the future if this mining continues. The coming generation will realise that money cannot be breathed or chewed.”

Simon Mwamba of the East African Farmers’ Federation (ESSAFF) adds, “The COP17 negotiations should not be used to advance the push for the Green Revolution in Africa, which traps farmers into cycles of debt and poverty. The green revolution will just enhance the corporate grip over agriculture and farmers, thereby threatening food sovereignty. Such practices force smallholder farmers to be dependent on agrochemicals, while eroding the seed diversity that Africa needs for resilience to climate change and a food secure future. Genetically Modified (GM) crops will be even worse ”

Mamadou Goita of ROPPA, the farmers’ federation for West Africa, emphasised that the threats facing Africa are numerous. “Land grabbing for biofuels and industrial food export is one of the biggest weapons to kill food sovereignty and excluding family farmers from food production.”

Nnimmo Bassey of Friends of the Earth Africa, and chair of Friends of the Earth International, said “Climate Change is killing our continent and peoples, but so are the so-called solutions proposed by profit-hungry corporations. This is why we are coming together as AFSA, to speak out for African solutions to the problems caused by the industrialised North.”

Here is a short video about the launch of AFSA that took place yesterday in Durban, at the COP17 meeting.


1) Download the report “Food Sovereignty Systems: Feeding the world, regenerating ecosystems, rebuilding local economies, and cooling the Planet – all at the same time” or from

2) Monday 5th December has been declared “Food Sovereignty Day” by AFSA member La Via Campesina, and farmers are marching through Durban today to celebrate.