The unholy alliance, five western donors shape a pro-corporate agenda for African agriculture
This report (PDF) from the Oakland Institute exposes how a coalition of four donor countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is shaping a pro-business environment in the agricultural sector of developing countries, especially in Africa. The report focuses on the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project, implemented by the World Bank. The EBA’s goal is to help create “policies that facilitate doing business in agriculture and increase the investment attractiveness and competitiveness of countries.” To achieve this, the EBA benchmarks areas including seeds, fertilizers, markets, transport, machinery, and finance, to determine whether or not countries’ laws facilitate doing business in agriculture. The EBA exemplifies a growing trend in international donors’ aid programs, which have become powerful instruments to impose a market-based, pro-private sector vision of agriculture. The authors of the report are questioning the possible impact of the project, such as rising pressure on land and natural resources; dependence on expensive and polluting agricultural inputs; increased vulnerability to climate shocks; criminalization of seed saving and exchange practices; and weakened government ability to support national agriculture. The authors fear that this approach fails to acknowledge the complexity of food
security and the root causes of hunger on the continent. Far beyond a problem of food scarcity, the problem of hunger encompasses a range of issues related to power dynamics, economic policy, poverty, conflicts, and much more. The authors argue for the need of strong national policies and country-owned strategies to support sustainable production by smallholder farmers.