Corporate supply chains and hunger in Zambia

 

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Image credit: African Centre for Biodiversity

 

Last month, the African Centre for Biodiversity published a study “Green Innovation Centre in Zambia: Fighting Hunger through Corporate Supply Chains?” in collaboration with Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. The study takes a look at the Green Innovation Center and its advancement of the Green Revolution.

The One World No Hunger (OWNH) program is a project of the German government, influencing Zambia’s agricultural development. The program’s Green Innovation Center (GIC), with a budget of 266.5 million euros, maintains a project in Zambia implemented by the German Gesellschaft für Zussamenarbeit (GIZ). The aim of the GIC is to provide support for smallholder farmers to integrate into commercial value chains operating at the regional, national, and global scale. GIC partners work with farmers to increase soya and groundnut production in the Eastern province and dairy in the South. They claim that training and connecting smallholder farmers to larger markets will increase their incomes and therefore solve hunger in the region. However, the majority of farmers cannot access these commercial markets, and will not see the benefits from this program. Even for participating farmers, they are negatively impacted by volatile global markets and will be forced to take lower prices due to the size and strength of transnational food corporations like Parmalat (a dairy partner in Zambia).

The Green Innovation Center is pushing for a Green Revolution in Zambia where agriculture is treated as a business and tool for economic development. This is yet another program that claims to solve the issue of hunger by privileging a small portion of farmers to get connected to commercial value chains while ignoring decentralized informal markets. In Zambia, 70% of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods or food access and 80% of the market is informal. Clearly, the solution to hunger will not come from connecting a select few into corporate supply chains. Read more about the work of the Green Innovation Center on the African Centre for Biodiversity website here.

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Farming with Influence: South Africa Agroecology Exchange Article Series

By Shalon Jones, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives

Sixth in the South Africa-US Agroecology Exchange Article Series

In October 2017, I was offered the opportunity to participate in a US-South Africa Agroecology Exchange, representing the Mississippi Association of Southern Cooperatives alongside Mr. Ben Burkett.  With much excitement and anticipation, many thoughts ran across my mind. Although this was a journey to gain understanding, knowledge, and bring awareness, this experience was soon to turn into a revelation.

I was always a person who loved embarking on opportunities and enthusiastically willing to learn new things. My most recent work allowed me to engage with many individuals and families about healthy eating tips and how to break unhealthy eating habits growing up. In the province of Limpopo, after visiting the Maphata Herbs Project, organized by a member of the Mopani Farmers Association named Olga, I began to see the remedy was literally at home. I toured a beautiful garden filled with homegrown herbs and vegetables. All created for prevention and healing. While witnessing all the great things in Olga’s own yard, I began to think about my uncle, whose life ended due to prostate cancer illness.  Right in the midst of walking through the yard there was this thought: “If I had this knowledge, could we have prevented or helped him be with us longer?” Every part of the tour was filled with enthusiasm and love. Thinking about my work, I think about how I’ve been giving the communities I serve and even myself an injustice. Not only do we need to support local farmers but learn how to grow for ourselves. This will not only help us, but everyone connected to us.

Another impactful moment was with another female farmer, Ms. Rikhotso Tintswalo Mallina, a community resident and Mopani Farmers Association member that organically grows over 20 different fruits and vegetables. In spite of her lack of resources, Ms. Rikhotso has found ways to keep her garden flourishing with a variety of produce that not only feeds her family but the community as well.

Both of these farmers’ undeniable influence and compassion is appreciated throughout their villages and now has crossed over to the USA. While there were many more moments worth telling, both experiences have caused me to not use my current apartment living as an excuse not to plant.  Once arriving back in Louisiana, I planted broccoli, lettuce, and rosemary.

Now when I walk out my door I will think about who inspired me!  It was all because of our South African comrades inspiring us to continue to fight for what’s best! Ms. Rithotso stated, “when I met the MFA, I began to understand that it was possible.” I’m glad to say “when I met my fellow comrades, I understand that it really is possible.”

With much gratitude,

Shalon Jones

Delegates from the 2017 South Africa-US Agroecology Exchange are authoring a series of articles reflecting on different aspects of the Exchange. In the series, they share how their trip to South Africa shaped new ideas, tactics, connections, and other means of continued engagement in the global Food Sovereignty movement, and how they’re bringing these insights to their local organizing. Read the first article in the series by Dean Jackson here, the second article by Edgar Franks here, the third article by Alsie Parks here, the fourth article by Justina Ramirez here, and the fifth article by Kathia Ramirez here.

Support an end to the World Bank’s “Enabling the Business of Agriculture”

“The revelations that led to this week’s resignation of World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer point to flawed methodology and political manipulation in the World Bank’s Doing Business report. Romer admitted that the Doing Business rankings may have been manipulated to make Chile’s economic environment look worse under the sitting socialist president Michelle Bachelet.

These revelations add to a long list of concerns that have been raised by civil society in recent years. The Our Land Our Business campaign was launched in 2014 to demand the end of the Bank’s Doing Business rankings. Over 280 organizations, including NGOs, unions, farmers, and consumer groups from over 80 countries have joined this call so far.”

The campaign “Our Land, Our Business” launched by the Oakland Institute in 2014, draws attention to the World Bank’s rating system that rewards the deregulation of business laws around the world. Last year, CAGJ published a blog post detailing how the World Bank’s “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” indicators affect the lives of smallholders in Africa.
Read more on the Oakland Institute’s campaign to end the World Bank’s business rating systems here.

Art and Activism at the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration

 

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Image credit: African Centre for Biodiversity

 

A new blog, published by Claire Rousell with the African Centre for Biodiversity reflects on the role of art in activism. During the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration, hosted by ACB at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg in December 2017, performers shared their stories of farming and food sovereignty through dance and music. The reflections in the blog remind us that while scientific evidence can be persuasive, art has the ability to reach people on a deeper, more intrinsic level. Read the blog here

Status report from the African Centre for Biodiversity asesses impact of harmonized seed regulations on small farmers

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A new status report, researched and written by Linzi Lewis and Sabrina Masinjila of the African Centre for Biodiversity, reviews the seed harmonization efforts of the South African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC). Seed harmonization efforts focus on the regulation of seed laws across Eastern and Southern Africa to facilitate trade through formal markets. Seed harmonization focuses on three areas: variety testing, registration and release, seed certification and phytosanitary measures. All of these procedures present significant financial barriers to small farmers to enter these formal markets. Historically, smallholder farmers have used farmer managed seed systems (FMSS) to access and trade local varieties. These systems still remain vital today, as roughly 90% of seeds are sourced from informal systems, and 60% come from local markets. It’s clear that these seed harmonization efforts are another extension of Green Revolution ideology, meant to facilitate the trade of corporate seeds and benefit large agribusiness while ignoring the importance of farmer managed seed systems.
Read and download the full report from the African Center for Biodiversity here: https://acbio.org.za/status-report-sadc-comesa-eac-harmonised-seed-trade-regulations-leave-regions-smallholder-farmers/?utm_source=phplist71&utm_medium=email&utm_content=HTML&utm_campaign=Status+report+on+the+SADC%2C+COMESA+and+EAC+harmonised+seed+trade+regulations%3A+Where+does+this+leave+the+regions%E2%80%99+smallholder+farmers%3F

Revisiting the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa’s comprehensive report on Agroecology

Last year, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) published a full 88-page report on agroecology. The report provides a clear definition of agroecology and its effective application in various contexts across Africa. It features 15 case studies from farmers in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Togo, and Tanzania. Each provides evidence-based accounts of how using agroecology techniques has helped them increase yields, biodiversity, and climate resilience. In one case study, farmers in Pelungu, Ghana, had difficulty growing crops due to low soil fertility and high climate variability. However, a nonprofit introduced an orange-fleshed potato into the community which grew well even under tough conditions, helping to curb hunger and increase farmer incomes.

 

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Image Credit: Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa

 

By tying together strong ecological evidence as well as commentary from some of the world’s foremost experts on agroecology, this comprehensive report argues for a vision of Africa’s future based on community-driven, agroecology practices. AFSA’s Agroecology Working Group and Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement worked together to produce the book. Mariann Bassey Orovwuje, Chairperson of AFSA notes, “What is special about this project is that it brings together the experiences and voices of small-scale producers who actually feed Africa, for all the world to see, hear, and learn from”. The book calls for no less than a complete transformation of our agricultural and food systems. The book, Agroecology: The Bold Future of Farming in Africa, is available as a free download at http://afsafrica.org/agroecology-the-bold-future-of-farming-in-africa/ 

En La Lucha No Hay Fronteras (In the Struggle There Are No Borders)

By Kathia Ramirez, Organizer, CATA (Comite de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agricolas/ The Farmworkers’ Support Committee)

Fifth in the South Africa-US Agroecology Exchange Article Series

In October of 2017, I had the opportunity to travel with 7 other comrades on an Agroecology Exchange to South Africa. This Exchange was a continuation of a process that had initiated in 2015 which was the same year that I was introduced to the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. Although there was much traveling, it was an amazing experience to see and learn from farmers, farmworkers, activists, and people in the community who are struggling due to the current food system.

During the trip, I had the opportunity to interpret for another delegate and feel the dynamic of how language is not a barrier to being able to relate across seas. The experience interpreting allowed me to relate and connect both with people in South Africa as well as to the stories that were shared with me from my same culture since I share a similar background to the delegate I was interpreting for. During our visit to Limpopo, members of the Mopani Farmers Association put together a cultural event just for us and once again, I felt the connection through dance and music despite our different backgrounds. It brought so much to mind for me: from appreciating the work that I am doing to learning more about my own culture from which at some point I have felt very disconnected.

When we arrived in Citrusdal, Cape Town and were hosted by the Surplus People’s Project, we honored International Rural Women’s Day through participating in a Day of Action for Food Sovereignty, and an assembly for the International Day of Eradication of Poverty. As members and allies of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, we participated on the last day and had the opportunity to share about our experiences and also had the chance to be part of a panel discussion, where we had both Farmer and Farmworker delegates sharing their stories. Among those on the panel were member organizations from The Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign. It was amazing to see how even though we joined these organizations on the last day of their three-day meeting, we were easily able to engage because our struggles are very similar. We were also very welcomed to engage when we participated in a meeting with Urban Farmers in Cape Town, and again, we identified some of the same issues that are affecting us although we are from two different countries.

Based on the work I do at the ground level as the Food Justice Coordinator with CATA- El Comite de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agricolas- or the Farmworkers Support Committee, I was able to connect with the work of farmworkers in South Africa.

CATA is a farmworker organization that has been working to improve workers’ conditions for quite some time. During our stay in the Western Cape, we had the opportunity to be in dialogue and hear the stories of farmworkers with the CSAAWU [Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union] and the Rural Legal Center. The farmworker struggle is universal: as we were listening and learning about their experiences, it only reminded me of the struggles farmworkers face here in the USA. There are many parallels that vary from exploitation of work, intimidating the worker who speaks up, not acquiring proper health care when injured, discrimination, etc.

At CATA, we work with migrant farmworkers and the immigrant community many of whom are from Mexico and Central America. We see many injustices in their work lives but also their everyday lives. I am hopeful that we can create a global movement where farmworkers are on the frontlines advocating and fighting for a dignified life.

Seeing the perspectives of farmers as well as from farmworkers during the exchange was really important and I am very grateful for this opportunity. In order for us to change our current food system that is harming us all as people, small-scale farmers and farmworkers are essential to this process. During our stay in the Western Cape Region, we learned a chant that was shouted on various occasions and I would like to share with you all. It was a call and response type of chant.

Someone would shout AMANDLA! with their fist held high. Amandla is a Zulu and Xhosa word (2 of the 11 official languages in South Africa). Then, the rest of the crowd would reply with: AWETHU! It is said that it was used during the days of resistance against the apartheid system.

Amandla, meaning power, Awethu referring “to us” or the people.

Amandla!
Awethu!