For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

AFSA Rejects AGRA’S Rebranding, Insist On Agroecology

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

African Civil Societies and Faith Based Organisations on the platform of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) have rejected the rebranding strategy of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), alleging it as a cosmetic change to continue its failing approaches.

The Organisation said they recognised the double rebranding as an admission of failure and a cynical distraction.

AFSA stated that “The double rebrand sees the name of the African Green Revolution Forum changing to “Africa’s Food Systems Forum”. At the same time, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa now insists that it will be known only by its acronym AGRA, without the words “green revolution” in its name, stating that both organs of the Green Revolution are attempting to distance themselves from the failed industrial agriculture project while essentially continuing with business as usual.

AFSA coordinator, Million Belay said “AGRA propagates this idea that African farmers don’t produce enough food because they don’t use enough chemical fertilisers,”

He said. “This might be true for some farmers till they transition to agroecology, but the implication is that if we pump soils and plants with agrochemicals, we will grow more food. But we know what that means in terms of polluting the soil, making farmers dependent on external inputs, compromising the health of farmers and consumers, robbing farmers of their right to food, and vulnerability to climate change.”

Anne Maina of the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya is quoted saying “AGRA is just putting new labels on the failed policies of the past. After 16 years and one billion dollars, we say AGRA’s time is up! Donors should pull the plug on AGRA.” She said

For Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute, Gabriel Manyangadze he demanded “not a rebranding of AGRA, but an end to funding harmful green revolution programs. What we need now is a Green Restoration.”

An analysis of AGRA’s new five-year strategy for 2023-27, with its $550 million budget, shows that the organisation is doubling down on its efforts to promote commercial seeds and fossil-fuel-based fertilisers and pesticides and to enact policy reforms that threaten peasant seed systems and the right to food. The strategy makes no commitment to improved yields, incomes, or food security for small-scale farming households.

In the statement  signed by AFSA’s Communications officer, Kirubel Teshome it stated that “The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa soundly rejects AGRA’s new strategy, announced last month, which promises a continuation of many of the same failing approaches

The food and climate crises compel Africa to turn away from Green Revolution practices that undermine small-scale farmers’ ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

As Africa hosts the COP27 climate talks in November, we see that AGRA has sorely disappointed Africans suffering the effects of the climate crisis. Africa must shift away from dependency on imported food and fossil=fuel technologies and reduce vulnerability to historical and current crises generated outside Africa’s shores, including climate change, conflicts, pandemics, and neo-colonialism, they said

A year ago, 200 organisations signed on to an AFSA letter demanding that donors withdraw support from AGRA. Some of AGRA’s donors are reducing their contributions, leaving the lame-duck AGRA project as a de facto wholly owned subsidiary of its primary funder, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which quickly pledged $200 million for AGRA’s five-year plan.

AFSA continues to call on donors and African governments to shift funding away from a Green Revolution strategy and toward proven agroecological alternatives.

“Farmers, pastoralists, fisher-folk, indigenous peoples, and local communities use agroecology to steward their land sustainably, produce nourishing food that celebrates cultural heritage, and strengthen local markets and economies,” They said

AFSA is a broad alliance of civil society actors who are part of Africa’s struggle for food sovereignty and agroecology. It is a network of networks with 36 members active in 50 African countries. These include African food producer networks, African NGO networks, indigenous people’s organisations, faith-based organisations, women and youth groups, consumer movements, and international organisations that support the alliance’s stance.   

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