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Africa: G8 Detour on Food Security

AfricaFocus Bulletin
May 24, 2012 (120524)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

The Camp David summit of the G-8 countries, held on May 17-18, announced a "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition," pitched as potentially raising 60 billion people out of poverty over the next 10 years. But the program as announced, featuring some $3 billion in investment pledges by 45 private agribusiness companies, was grotesquely out of sync with international commitments to respecting country-owned plans and prioritizing broad-based public investment to benefit smallholder farmers.

Civil society groups, experts, and United Nations reports, by contrast, agree that the private agribusiness sector can play a constructive role, but only within the context of coherent development that empowers farmers themselves, rather than only providing new inputs. An exclusive or primary emphasis on large agribusiness, even if it is justified by the supply of inputs such as seeds and fertilizers to farmers, ignores the fact that the agribusiness firms' interest in profits and the farmers' interest in income and food security may often be in conflict.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin, available on the web at, but not sent out by e-mail, contains several commentaries relevant to the G-8 commitment, from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, ActionAid USA, and Joseph Hanlon's Mozambique News Reports & Clippings.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin, sent out today by e-mail and available on the web at, includes excerpts from the overview of the newly released Africa Human Development Report 2012, focused on food security.

Additional relevant sources include

Camp David Accountability Report from G8

ActionAid brief on Camp David Accountability Report "A step forward for g8 transparency, But shows unfinished Agenda on hunger," May 2012

"G8 Report Offers Worrying Look at Aid Accountability," InterPress Service, May 22, 2012

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on issues related to agriculture, visit

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

G-8 Punts on Food Security

Sophia Murphy, Timothy A. Wise

May 22, 2012

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

The G-8 met this past the weekend in the United States. Three years earlier the group of the most powerful industrialized nations met in L'Aquila, Italy, just as foodprice spikes were sending millions into poverty. They stepped up to the challenge, with a three-year, $22 billion pledge of aid for agricultural development to address the food crisis.

Well, three years is done and, apparently, so is the G-8 commitment to address the food crisis. How else to interpret the sad excuse of an aid program that is 'The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition' (

According to President Barack Obama, who unveiled the program before the G-8 convened May 18, this is a commitment to 'raise 50 million people out of poverty' in Africa in the next ten years. How? Mobilize private sector money. Already some 45 private companies have been brought in, creating a partnership with G-8 governments and some African governments. The initial commitment from the private sector is worth $3 billion, and the first three recipient governments are Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana. To qualify to join the alliance, according to the press release, African governments must, 'refine policies in order to improve investment opportunities.'

How bad is this idea? Money is money, right? Wrong! The private sector is not just like government, only a little different. It is ENTIRELY different. Corporations are accountable to their shareholders, obliged to make a profit. They are not charities. They are bound by law, but not by the public interest. They are not bound by the outcomes of the Paris and Accra Aid Effectiveness conferences, which committed donors to allow and encourage national ownership of development spending and to better coordinate their efforts. They are not bound by the five Rome Principles, agreed by over 60 Heads of State at the 2009 World Food Summit, which reinforced the aid effectiveness outcomes focused specifically on donor investments in agriculture. Corporations are not parties to the human rights covenants that oblige most governments to realize the universal human right to food.

Already the requirement that African governments 'improve investment opportunities' sounds hauntingly like the conditionalities of old (and current, much-criticized, bilateral investment agreements) and nothing like the country-led, accountable and transparent aid policies that donors have pledged themselves to follow in the last several years.

As ActionAid International's recent report on implementation of the L'Aquila initiative ( shows, the promises were important, coming on the heels of two decades of declining investment in agriculture and what proved to be a complacent and misplaced reliance on international trade to ensure countries' food supply. We applauded these funding commitments in our review of food security policy since 2007 (, published in January this year. We also warned that the pledges were not enough, that they were time-limited and threatened by budget cutbacks, and that they did not put enough new money into some of the most forward-looking programs, such as the new Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

That program's 'public sector' aid sets many of the right priorities, focusing on small-scale farmers and women, on more sustainable agricultural practices, and on providing aid to 'country-owned' programs, ones that developing country governments have approved and manage under program guidelines. These correspond to the Rome Principles. These are important advances, yet now most rich country donors are dropping these programs in favor of the private sector without even making good on their original pledges.

While some new programs were created, including the U.S. government's Feed the Future initiative, budget support for this kind of work seems to be drying up. ActionAid's report shows that only 22 percent of the pledged money was actually spent in the first two years. And that less than 25 percent of the donor spending on agriculture after L'Aquila respected the commitment to work with countries that had developed nationally-owned agricultural development plans. Now, the money's drying up and we are asked to believe that Vodaphone and Monsanto and PepsiCo (three of the firms signed up to the alliance) are going to turn things around. Much easier to see how they are eyeing new markets for their cell phones, genetically engineered crops and fast food outlets.

This is a tremendous setback for international efforts to address the food crisis. In our report, we warned that the heavy focus on public-private partnerships and market-based mechanisms could undermine the efforts to marshal public funds for the kind of agricultural and rural development that the world's least developed countries most need. Now it has. The United States has reportedly made a new commitment to GAFSP, but G8 pledges overall are slow in coming. This leaves the private sector to pick up the slack and call the shots, with none of the accountability that came with GAFSP and other donor programs.

The announced alliance did not get a very warm welcome from civil society. In a letter ( anticipating the G-8 announcement, sent to the President of the African Union on behalf of ROPPA, the association of peasant agriculture associations of West Africa, and signed by 14 other civil society platforms, the donor-foreign investor axis to determine Africa's food security was firmly rejected:

"I would simply like to recall that food security and sovereignty are the basis of our general development, as all of the African governments underline. It is a strategic challenge. This is why we must build our food policy on our own resources as is done in the other regions of the world. The G8 and the G20 can in no way be considered the appropriate fora for decisions of this nature."

Pledges, Principles and Progress:
Aid to Agriculture Since L'Aquila

ActionAid USA

Briefing Paper

May 2012 / direct URL:

Executive Summary

In 2007 and 2008, a global spike in food prices caused riots in more than 30 countries and increased the number of hungry people in the world to a historic high of more than 1 billion. In response, at the 2009 G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, and at the World Food Summit in Rome later that year, world leaders pledged to significantly increase aid to agriculture, invest in smallholder farmers, and channel their assistance through country-owned plans in a comprehensive and coordinated way. The L'Aquila pledge and the Rome Principles signaled a renewed commitment by donors to agricultural development which hadn't been seen for decades.

This year, the three year timeframe for G8 L'Aquila Food Security pledge comes to an end, and leaders will decide on next steps for agricultural assistance. ActionAid has prepared this briefing paper to provide some background and context to policymakers and advocates at the three year mark. This report examines trends in overall aid to agriculture by key L'Aquila donors over the past several years, and provides an early (if incomplete) assessment of trends in aid to agriculture since the food crisis emerged.

By analyzing data from the OECD DAC of L'Aquila donors' investments in aid to agriculture in 2009 and 2010 (the first or first and second years of the L'Aquila pledge period, depending upon the donor) as compared to the period from 2006-2008, we found

  • Aid to agriculture by L'Aquila donors increased by 60 percent in the first year after the L'Aquila pledge was made. Countries like Canada, Spain and the United States made the largest increases while a few countries actually decreased their investment.
  • Donors who pledged large amounts of new money at L'Aquila showed the largest increase in aid, while some donors with smaller pledges of new money ended up with a net decrease in aid.
  • Despite a pledge by donors to back country-owned plans, such as those developed through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), poor countries with national agricultural development plans received less than a quarter of aid to agriculture from L'Aquila donors. The L'Aquila Pledge has yet to have a significant impact on this trend, meaning that L'Aquila donors have yet to sufficiently align their aid behind country-owned plans as they pledged to in Rome. Canada provides the largest percentage of its aid to agriculture to poor countries with national agricultural development plans while the United States provides the largest amount in real dollars.
  • The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) Public Sector Window has emerged as a best practice in donor financing for agriculture. However, it remains underfunded and is at risk of closure without new donor commitments to the fund. With an innovative and transparent governance structure this multi-lateral trust fund is both encouraging donors to commit new money to aid to agriculture and investing in country-led strategies. But it is suffering from a lack of donor support.

Our analysis also finds that donors are not targeting aid to countries with the highest levels of hunger. While this was not a specific commitment of the L'Aquila pledge, a greater focus on the hungriest countries is critical in order to improve global food security. We found that:

  • Just 17 percent of aid to agriculture is going to the 25 countries with the highest levels of hunger, and the L'Aquila pledge had little impact on this trend thus far. With the three year L'Aquila pledge period coming to an end this year and with global food security high on the agenda of the 2012 G8 summit, ActionAid is urging the G8 and other donors to:
  • Commit to sustain and expand the public financial pledges made at L'Aquila to help lift at least 50 million people out of poverty through public investment in agricultural development that benefits women smallholder farmers;
  • Align their assistance behind country-owned plans like CAADP and make specific pledges to deliver increased assistance through the innovative GAFSP Public Sector Window; and
  • Ensure that any new initiative to leverage private sector support for agricultural development includes significant opportunities for participation by farmers and civil society and a clear indication as to how private sector investment will improve nutrition and smallholder productivity and income.

Box 1 the Rome Principles

Principle 1: Invest in country-owned plans, aimed at channeling resources to well designed and results-based programs and partnerships.

Principle 2: Foster strategic coordination at national, regional and global level to improve
governance, promote better allocation of response gaps.

Principle 3: Strive for a comprehensive twin-track approach to food security that consists of: 1)
direct action to immediately tackle hunger for the most vulnerable and 2) medium and long-term sustainable agricultural, food security, nutrition and rural development programs to eliminate the root causes of hunger and poverty, including through the progressive realization of the right to adequate food.

Principle 4: Ensure a strong role for the multilateral system by sustained improvements in efficiency, responsiveness, coordination and effectiveness of multilateral institutions.

Principle 5: Ensure sustained and substantial commitment by all partners to investment in
agriculture and food security and nutrition, with provision of necessary resources in a timely and reliable fashion, aimed at multi-year plans and programs

G8 says private investment will end hunger in Mozambique

From Joseph Hanlon (, Mozambique News Reports & Clippings 197, 21 May 2012

Available by e-mail. Archive at:

The G8 has agreed a new programme to try to use private investment to end hunger in Mozambique and five other countries. The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was proposed by President Barack Obama and USAID and has already started in three countries - Tanzania, Ghana, and Ethiopia &- and will be expanded to three others - Mozambique, Cote d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso.

President Obama, speaking in Washington on 18 May, said "we're going to mobilize more private capital. Today, I can announce that 45 companies - from major international corporations to African companies and cooperatives - have pledged to invest more than $3 billion to kick off this effort." Some are well known multinational seed and agro-chemical companies including Cargill, Monsanto, DuPont and Diageo. And Obama warned that African countries must make "tough reforms" to attract this investment. USAID stresses that African countries must "improve investment opportunities".

Obama said: "we're going to speed up the development and delivery of innovation -- better seeds, better storage - that unleash huge leaps in food production."

The G8 "Camp David Declaration" agreed Saturday says: "Working with our African and other international partners, today we commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities. This New Alliance will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade, and be guided by a collective commitment to invest in credible, comprehensive and country-owned plans, develop new tools to mobilize private capital, spur and scale innovation, and manage risk; and engage and leverage the capacity of private sector partners - from women and smallholder farmers, entrepreneurs to domestic and international companies."

The New York Times (17 May) noted that G8 leaders at their meeting in L'Aquila, Italy, in 2009, pledged $22 billion for food and agriculture projects, of which only $6 billion was new and the rest had been promised before. And of the $22 bn, only 58% has been disbursed. The G8 on Saturday said "we commit to fulfill outstanding L'Aquila financial pledges", in other words promising again to spend money which had already been promised twice before.

L'Aquila finance is linked to the World Bank Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which so far does not include Mozambique.

Civil society organisations have been hostile to the new proposal. A final declaration of African civil society organisations meeting in Brazzaville 22-23 April said that foreign investments, "as they are now conceived, are not suitable instruments to support the family farms which are the very basis of African food security and sovereignty." It continues, "resources are targeted towards industrial agriculture" which in inappropriate for family farms.

Oxfam in a statement on 18 May said "the plan's top down approach does not reflect what many people in poor countries say they want or need." Oxfam's Lamine Ndiaye adds: "The New Alliance is neither new nor a true alliance." Oxfam says the G8 "focuses too heavily on the role of the private sector to tackle the complex challenges of food insecurity in the developing world." Oxfam "called instead for G8 leaders to keep the promises they have already made to help developing countries invest in sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty."

Background material:

+ G8 food factsheet:

+ USAid factsheet:

+ Camp David Declaration:

+ Remarks by President Obama at Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, 18 May:

+ Press Briefing by US officials on Food Security, 18 May:

+ World Bank Global Agriculture and Food Security Program:

+ African civil society declaration:

+ Oxfam statement:

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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