SOUTH AFRICA: Institute Warns Gates Foundation against Funding Unsustainable Agricultural Practices in Africa

By Njoki Githinji

CAPETOWN, FEBRUARY 26, 2021(CISA) -The Southern Africa Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) has called on the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to support natural farming methods to help Africa achieve food security and protect the environment and stop funding green revolution technologies and genetically modified seeds in Africa.

“We appeal to the Gates Foundation to fundamentally revise how it promotes “food security”. We ask that it stops funding green revolution technologies in Africa through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the N2Africa project and genetically modified (GM) seed, including the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project,” SAFCEI said in a February 23 open letter shared on their website.

SAFCEI demands that the foundation respects and supports locally-defined, holistic approaches that enable agro ecological transitions to sustainable food systems in Africa, based on regenerative farming methods “that work with, rather than against biodiversity, for the equitable production and local marketing of nutritious food.”

SAFCEI notes that the foundation promotes a model of industrial monoculture farming and food processing that is not sustaining people.

“It reduces our resilience by depleting and destroying natural soil fertility, water resources and our rich biodiversity and genetic capital. It undermines community-spirited farming traditions of selecting, saving and sharing seed and it ignores indigenous knowledge regarding diversity and multi-cropping,” SAFCEI said noting that industrialised food systems cannot provide the people of Africa with an affordable, nutritious, diverse, chemical-free and culturally appropriate diet.

The institute said that the foundation is fueling hunger and poverty by funding farming methods that fail to protect small-scale farmers and the environment.

It called on the foundation to support regenerative farming and food systems and stop promoting the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and biotechnology.

“Shift investment to interventions, technologies and support packages that enable regenerative farming, and encourage African governments to do the same. Work to ensure that seed and agriculture laws and policies are realigned to support farmers’ rights over profits for agri-corporations,” the institute said.

It also urged the foundation to promote the use and conservation of the genetic diversity of seed as a common good and not for corporate profit and boost local farmer support.