Last month, Other Worlds, an organization that promotes economic and environmental justice, published the second article of their seven part series on African seed and food sovereignty. The article, titled “Dangers of the Gates Foundation: Displacing Seeds and Farmers,” features information gathered from the founder and director of the African Centre for Biodiversity, and AGRA Watch partner, Mariam Mayet. It discusses the role that the Gates Foundation plays in displacing traditional agricultural practices through investment in a green revolution in Africa.
Investments made by the Gates Foundation, along with those made by the US government, the UK, and the Netherlands have created costly agricultural projects that rely on the products of multinational corporations, and that African farmers can only participate in if the public subsidizes them, which it does. In other words, the Gates Foundation is helping to create a system in which subsidies generate profit for multinational corporations, not farmers. While empowering corporations, the projects that the Gates Foundation invests in have disempowered farmers by allowing these multinational companies to make agricultural production decisions in “laboratories or in far-away board rooms.”
AGRA Watch feels that by giving corporations the power to make agricultural production decisions, the Gates Foundation is displacing the peasant farming systems on which about 80 percent of the population relies for income and food. While they do this, AGRA Watch, Mayet, and many other partners encourage those systems. We encourage systems in which “farmers control their seed systems, are proud of their knowledge systems, share seeds from generation to generation through the age-old practice of exchange where they are self-reliant on a huge diversity of seeds under their control, where women play an important role in production decisions, seed selection, and breeding, and where our local food economies find their roots.” Later in this seven part series, Other Worlds discusses with Mayet how her and the African Centre for Biodiversity are encouraging such systems.
Check back later for our synopses of, and links to the subsequent parts of this seven part series.