Sign-on statement: stop UK aid giveaway to multinationals
UK civil society statement on the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition
The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is 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.
Companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Diageo, Unilever, Yara and DuPont have signed ‘letters of intent’ to engage in the New Alliance, and six African governments (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania) have signed up to national cooperation frameworks agreeing to far-reaching policy reforms in favour of private investment. Four more governments (Benin, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal) are set to sign up to the New Alliance imminently.
The New Alliance has been modelled on the ‘new vision’ of private investment in agriculture developed by management consultants McKinsey in conjunction with the ABCD group of leading grain traders (ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus) and other multinational agribusiness companies. Government officials have acknowledged that most of the content in the national cooperation frameworks has been taken from other corporate initiatives such as AGRA (the Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa) and the Grow Africa investment platform of the World Economic Forum. Policy commitments required of African countries joining the New Alliance include ending the free distribution of seeds, phasing out national export controls and making it easier for private investors to take over agricultural land. The UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) has announced that it will be contributing £395 million from the UK aid budget to the New Alliance over the coming three years.
There have been many strong critiques of the New Alliance, in view of the unprecedented powers it offers multinational agribusiness companies and the significant threat it poses to smallholder farming and efforts to combat hunger in Africa; some of these critiques are listed below. There is also grave concern that an unelected grouping such as the G8 should be actively seeking to undermine the work of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the UN body which holds a democratic mandate to address issues of global food security and nutrition.
In a joint statement to the G8 published in May 2013, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (an alliance representing smallholder farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples and environmentalists from across Africa), the African Centre for Biosafety and many other farmers’ groups and civil society organisations accused the G8 of launching a “new wave of colonialism” by means of the New Alliance, warning that its emphasis on the privatisation of agricultural techniques and knowledge must be abandoned. In a parallel statement, farmers’ movements and civil society organisations from across the world have rejected the G8’s proposed initiative on transparency in land transactions as an illegitimate attempt to whitewash land grabs and undermine the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests endorsed by the CFS in 2012.
We members of UK civil society call on David Cameron and other G8 leaders to heed the warning from African civil society and to abandon the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in light of the dangers it poses to smallholder farmers and efforts to combat hunger in Africa. We support the CFS as the foremost platform on food security and nutrition, and we reject all attempts to undermine it – including the G8’s proposed land transparency initiative. The G8 has no legitimacy to intervene in matters of food, hunger and land tenure in Africa or any other part of the world. We therefore call on DFID to withhold the £395 million in UK taxpayers’ money that it has announced will be handed over to the New Alliance as part of the UK government’s support for the expansion of multinational agribusiness companies into the agricultural markets of Africa.
Critiques of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition
- Letter from African Civil Society Critical of Foreign Investment in African Agriculture at G8 Summit (May 2012)
- The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: Nothing New About Ignoring Africa’s Farmers (Eric Holt-Gimenez, May 2012)
- G8 punts on food security… to private sector (Sophia Murphy, IATP, May 2012)
- G8 food security alliance answers question hungry people have not asked (Oxfam, May 2012)
- Privatizing the Governance of ‘Green Growth’ (Heinrich Böll Foundation, Nov 2012), especially pp. XV-XVI
- The Hunger Games: How DFID support for agribusiness is fuelling poverty in Africa (War on Want, Dec 2012)
- Structural Adjustment 2.0: G8 Initiative New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa (Forum on Environment & Development working group on food and agriculture, Jan 2013)
- Tanzanian Civil Society Statement on Farmers’ Rights (March 2013) – pursuant to Tanzania’s accession to the UPOV 1991 intellectual property regime as part of its New Alliance cooperation framework
- The G8 and Land Grabs in Africa (GRAIN, March 2013)
- ADECRU Position on The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa (ADECRU, April 2013)
- Whose Alliance? The G8 and the Emergence of a Global Corporate Regime for Agriculture (CIDSE, April 2013, shorter version)
- Whose Alliance? The G8 and the Emergence of a Global Corporate Regime for Agriculture (CIDSE, May 2013, longer version)
- G8 should implement the CFS Tenure Guidelines rather than launch a new initiative aimed at increased transparency in land transactions (international statement, May 2013)
- Modernising African Agriculture: Who Benefits? (statement by African civil society, May 2013)
The documentation behind the New Alliance, including the first six national ‘cooperation frameworks’, is available at http://feedthefuture.gov/article/food-security-and-g8-summit