Africa: Open Letter – the Green Revolution in Africa Has Unequivocally Failed

200 organisations call on donors to stop supporting industrial agriculture and instead listen to farmers’ visions for an equitable food system.

Dear donor representative,

We, 35 organisations from the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and 165 allied organisations in 40 countries around the world, call on your agency to cease funding the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and other Green Revolution programmes and to support African-led efforts to expand agroecology and other low-input farming systems.

AFSA, the continent’s largest network of civil society organisations, wrote to AGRA donors in May 2021 asking for evidence of the programme’s positive impacts. The network received few replies and no evidence.

AGRA has unequivocally failed in its mission to increase productivity and incomes and reduce food insecurity, and has in fact harmed broader efforts to support African farmers.

Over a decade of research has exposed the failure of AGRA on its own terms. After nearly 15 years and spending of more than $1 billion to promote the use of commercial seeds, chemical fertilisers, and pesticides in 13 African countries, and additional $1 billion per year of African government subsidies for seeds and fertilisers, AGRA has failed to provide evidence that yields, incomes or food security increased significantly, and sustainably, for smallholder households across its target countries. Since the onset of AGRA’s programme in 2006, the number of undernourished people across these 13 countries has increased by 30%. Even where staple crop production did increase, there was little reduction of rural poverty or hunger. Instead, diverse, climate-resilient crops that provide a more diverse and healthy diet for rural Africans have been displaced.

The role played by AGRA is of serious concern for several reasons:

  • It pursues an ill-conceived approach promoting monocultural commodity production heavily reliant on chemical inputs at the expense of sustainable livelihoods, long-term soil fertility, climate, and human development.
  • The strategy to convert farmers to “high-yield” commercial seeds, fertilisers and pesticides directly harms farmers as it increases their dependence on corporations and long supply chains for inputs and harms the environment. It also undermines resilience, and increases the risks of debt for small-scale farmers in the face of climate change.
  • AGRA uses its financial leverage to encourage African governments to focus on boosting agricultural yields at the expense of hunger and poverty on the continent, including centuries of exploitation of the continent’s people and natural resources that have not benefited Africans.

With AGRA’s president, Agnes Kalibata, leading the upcoming United Nations Food Systems Summit as UN Special Envoy, AGRA’s financial backing and influence allow its model to be wrongly presented as the way forward for the world. It is, in fact, part of the problem.

Hundreds of organisations from around the world have denounced the Food Systems Summit as an attempt to promote more corporate-led industrial agriculture around the world along AGRA’s model for Africa.

In June 2021, nearly 500 faith leaders across Africa sent a letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to end its damaging support for industrial agriculture. The letter, sent by the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), rejects the Foundation’s current approach to food security, in the face of the intensifying climate crisis, as doing more harm than good on the continent. They call on the Gates Foundation and other AGRA donors to listen to small-scale farmers and stop supporting industrial agriculture. We stand by the demands of these letters and ask your agency to listen to the voices of Africans in determining the efforts you support.

Whereas the world is faced with major human, environmental, and climate crises, it is urgent to change course and turn to a development model based on truly sustainable practices, equity, and justice. Farmers all over Africa have shown far more promising results sharing knowledge and working with scientists to establish low-input farming methods that leave the control of production in the hands of African farmers. We urge you to listen to the farmer movements from across the continent that have laid out their vision for a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system (such as the Declaration of Nyéléni and the Addis Ababa Declaration).

As the African faith leaders asked the Gates Foundation, we call for “respect and support to locally-defined, holistic approaches that enable agroecological transitions to sustainable food systems in Africa.”

We therefore call on you to immediately stop funding detrimental Green Revolution programs such as AGRA so that peasant-led agroecological approaches and other low external-input farming systems may truly thrive.

Signed:

Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)

Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA Kenya)

Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch

GRAIN

Groundswell International

A Growing Culture

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

The Oakland Institute

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

AFSA member networks

African Biodiversity Network (ABN)

African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)

Association Ouest Africaine pour le Développement de la Pêche Artisanale (ADEPA)

Coalition pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africaine (COPAGEN)

Comité Ouest Africain de Semences Paysannes (COASP)

Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS Africa)

Eastern and Southern Africa Pastoralist Network (ESAPN)

Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)

Faith & Justice Network of the Mano River Basin (FJN)

Farm-Saved Seeds Network (FASSNET)

Fédération Agroécologique du Bénin (FAEB)

Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA)

Friends of the Earth Africa (FoEA)

Global Justice Now!

Groundswell West Africa (GWA)

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)

Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC)

Institut Africain pour le Développement Economique et Social (INADES-Formation)

Institut Panafricain pour la Citoyenneté, les Consommateurs et le Développement (CICODEV Africa)

Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE International)

La Via Campesina SEAfrica

North African Food Sovereignty Network (NAFSN)

Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association

Plate-forme Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC)

Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture Programme (ReSCOPE)

Réseau Africain pour le Droit à l’Alimentation (RAPDA -Togo)

Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA)

Tanzanian Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO)

Union Africaine des Consommateurs (UAC)

We are the Solution (WAS)

World Neighbors

Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB)

Endorsed by 160 allied organisations in 40 countries around the world

350 Seattle

Acción Ecológica

Action for Community Transformation (ACT)

ActionAid International

Actions et Initiatives Locales d’Education de Paix et de Développement lnclusifs

ADeD/JINUKUN

Afar Pastoralist Development Association

African Beekeeping Resource Centre (ABRC)

Agro-Shrub Alliance

Agroecology Research-Action Collective

Agrosol

AILE- PDI TEETE

All India Union of Forest Working People AIUFWP

Ames Climate Action Team

Amis de la Terre France

ANCAR

ANEC AC

BioProtect

Bioscience Resource Project

Biotech Services Sénégal

Biovision Foundation

Biowatch South Africa

Both ENDS

Caribbean Agroecology Institute

Caritas Thies

Caritas Zambia

Casa Congo

CCFD-Terre Solidaire

Center for Food Safety (US)

Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR)

Centro Agrícola Cantonal de Quevedo

CFAPE-TOGO

Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust

CIDSE

Círculo Argentino de Agroecología

CLIMA Fund

CNABio

Colectivo Agroecológico del Ecuador

Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT)

Conservation Agriculture Namibia

Consumers Union of Japan

COPAGEN Burkina Faso

COPAGEN Niger

Corriente Agraria Nacional y Popular Chaco

CST Ethiopia

Dartmouth College

Yolanda Whyte Pediatrics

EarthLore Foundation NPC (EarthLore)

ECAO

Ecological organic agriculture Initiative (EOA I)

El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)

ETC Group

FACHIG Trust

Fahamu Africa

Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre

Family Farm Defenders

Farmworker Association of Florida

FENEV

FIAN Belgium

FIAN Colombia

FIAN Germany

FIAN International

Focus on the Global South

Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition

Food Sovereignty Ghana

Food, Agriculture & Society Program, Macalester College

Foro Feminista Magaly Pineda

Forum on Environment and Development

Friends of the Earth International

Friends of the Earth, U.S.

Friends of the MST (US)

FUGPN Mooriben

Fundación Semillas de Vida, A.C.

G-BIACK

Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB)

GE Free NZ in Food and Environment

Global Center for Climate Justice

Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

GMO Science

Granja Soleil en transición agroecologica razonada

Grassroots International

Green America

GRuB

Haki Nawiri Afrika

Harambee House, inc

Ileoge Farmers Market

Indigenous Strategy & Institution for Development(ISID)

Initiative for Agriculture and Rural Development in Mali

INKOTA-netzwerk

Inter Pares

Joint Action for Water

Justica Ambiental JA!

Kasisi Agricultural Training Center (KATC)

Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum

Landless Peoples Movement SA

Les Jardins de l’Espoir

Maendeleo Endelevu Action Program (MEAP)

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Masifundise/WFFP

MASIPAG

Mazingira Institute

MELCA-Ethiopia

Mijarc

Millennium Institute

Moms Across America

National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)

National Family Farm Coalition

National Organic Actors Platform Uganda

Natures Wisdom

NeverEndingFood

Njeremoto Biodiversity Institute NBI-Zim

ONG La Grande Puissance de Dieu

Organic Consumers Alliance(OCA)

Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples

Pesticide Action Nexus Association

Presbyterian Church USA

Programme de Développement du Kasai

RAPAM

ReAct Transnational

Real Food Media

RECOWA

Red Correntina de Agroecologia

Rhedpat Organic intergrated Farms

Rural Vermont

Schola Campesina

Seeds Savers Network Kenya

Semillas de Identidad

SIDH-Sénégal

Small Planet Institute

Society for International Development

Soil Generation

Soils Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC)

SOS FAIM Luxembourg

Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON)

Southern Agricultural Research Institute

St Jude Family Projects

Strategies for Agro-Pastoralist’s Development

Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN)

Transnational Institute

TREEhouse Growing Eating Living

Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)

Turning Green

UNAM, National University of Mexico

Unión de Scientíficos Comprometidos con la Sociedad

United Church of Christ

United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries

Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana

Universidad Veracruzana

Village Volunteers

Voluntary Services Overseas

VRCC

WASCAL

Washington Biotechnology Action Council

WhyHunger

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, US

Women’s Intl. League for Peace & Freedom, Boston, MA branch

World Public Health Nutrition Association

Young Green Women SierraLeone

Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF)

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