13.02.2018 |

France withdraws from New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

More support for family farmers is needed (Photo: CC0)

France will withdraw from the controversial G7 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN). The decision was announced at the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) on 8 February. Since its launch in 2012, the New Alliance has been heavily criticised by development organisations. They argue that the initiative favours the interest of transnational agribusiness corporations to the detriment of peasant agriculture. It has been denounced by hundreds of organisations for its negative impacts on food security and small-scale farmers in the ten African countries in which the initiative operates. In 2016, even the European Parliament slammed the G7 project. In a report adopted by the parliament’s development committee, the alliance was criticised for benefiting agribusiness while posing a threat to small-scale farmers and the environment. The initiative, which aims to bring 50 million people in Subsaharan Africa out of poverty by 2022 by enabling investment in the agricultural sector, is supported by multinationals such as Cargill, Monsanto or Louis Dreyfus.

France explained the move with the fact that an assessment of the impacts of NAFSN’s implementation in Burkina Faso had shown mixed results. An independent evaluation of the programme, carried out by researchers at the Centre for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), focussed in particular on the Bagré project, 200 km southeast of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital. “The measures taken there to free up land for future investors caused profound changes in food security and food consumption practices,” the daily Le Monde Afrique quoted from the report. The project intends to introduce large-scale artificial irrigation. But small-scale farmers who depend on rainfed agriculture to cultivate their staple crops fear that they will be deprived of their land. “The situation of family farmers is today very tense compared to the conditions offered to agribusiness, generating a strong feeling of injustice,” the CIRAD experts write. “The approach of this initiative is too ideological and there is a real risk of land grabbing to the detriment of small farmers,” a French Foreign Ministry official close to the case was quoted in Le Monde. According to a paper summarising the results of the CICID meeting, France will instead “strengthen its support for inclusive rural development and family farming, mainly in Africa and in particular in the Sahel, through an agro-ecological intensification, by improving nutrition of the population and through territorial and sectoral approaches.”

French development organisations welcomed the step. Action Against Hunger, the CCFD-Terre Solidaire and Oxfam France said the withdrawal should be taken into account by other NAFSN partners, such as the European Union and African States. Germany, another main contributor to the NAFSN, should also pull out of the initiative. The organisations warn that the so-called “magic bullet” of mixing public-private partnerships and legislative reforms to create an enabling environment for transnational companies’ investments, as promoted by the New Alliance, is not the solution to fight hunger. “On the contrary, it goes against the interest of local populations, marginalises family farms – although they produce 70% of the global food items – to the benefit of a few transnational companies which are given all the facilities : finance, taxes, land tenure,” they said in a press release. The NGOs stress that they have repeatedly documented the negative consequences of such a system in Burkina Faso or in Ivory Coast: land grabbing, peasants’ debt, introduction of GMO crops and settlement of growth corridors which are actually agricultural tax heavens. According to the three organisations, France must learn from this failure and no longer engage in investment projects and similar initiatives. “The withdrawal from NAFSN must be the signal for a genuine rethink,” they said. “In coherence with this decision, the 400 million euros France annually affects to food security in countries of the Global South should entirely go to the development of peasant agroecology.” (ab)

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Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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