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Talking Points on Food and Agriculture

  • International agencies agree that small farmers are key to addressing poverty and food insecurity in Africa. But commercial monopolization of seeds and land grabs by both foreign and domestic investors make a mockery of international pledges to help small farmers. This replicates the takeover of land and agriculture by agribusiness in the United States and other rich countries.

  • Studies have found that attention to small farmers can be the most effective strategy for increasing food production and providing income to the rural population. But there are few effective controls on the rush of investment into land by speculators and commercial enterprises. Farmers who lose their land wait in vain for promised replacement jobs. In South Africa and Namibia, the issue of land distribution remains unresolved.

  • At the same time, multinational companies such as Monsanto, which monopolize the supply of commercial seeds and fertilizer, erode the independence of small farmers by pressuring governments to outlaw traditional practices of seed saving and sharing. The companies' monopolistic strategies are supported by public and private international donors, such as USAID and the Gates Foundation.

U.S.-based Monsanto is one of the largest global agribusiness companies. Its business relies on expanding commercial control over rights to seeds.

 

Recent bulletins on food and agriculture


AfricaFocus Bulletin

February 1, 2016  Africa/Global: Accounting Tricks with Coca-Cola
    "The Cayman-based Conco is one of more than 25 entities located in tax havens -- just over 30 percent of the [Coca-Cola's] total 'financial' subsidiary disclosures.. Of those based in tax havens, almost half use Delaware, including the parent Coca-Cola company, incorporated there since 1919. ... Delaware's secret formula is the total tax exemption for all income related to intangible capital. In fact, the Delaware Code specifically highlights the advantages of holding companies for intangible capital that "charge" their own global subsidiaries a 'fee' for use of the trademarks and other intangible capital." - Khadija Sharife, in "Coca-Cola's Hidden Formula for Avoiding Taxes"

January 25, 2016  Africa: Charting the Digital Gender Gap
    New research from the World Wide Web Foundation reveals new details about the enduring digital gender gap in Africa's urban cities, despite the unprecedented expansion of access to mobile phones among women as well as men. In poor neighborhoods of six African cities, the study shows, "women are almost as likely as men to own a mobile phone of their own, but they are a third less likely than men of similar age, education level and economic status to use their phones to access the Internet. " The cities included were Lagos, Nairobi, Maputo, Kampala, Yaounde, and Cairo.

January 19, 2016  Africa: Stealth Assault on African Seeds
    "There is a renewed and stronger assault on seed ... based on legal systems that permit exclusive rights over seeds on the spurious contention that plant varieties were 'discovered' and improved on. But these 'discovered' varieties are the product of the whole history of collective human improvements and maintenance carried out by peasants. To assert exclusive rights over the whole on the basis of small adjustments is nothing short of outright theft." - SouthSouth Dialogue, Durban, South Africa, November 2015

December 10, 2015  Africa/Global: Beyond the Paris Climate Talks
    As the climate talks in Paris draw to a close this week, the countries present are still far from full agreement. Among the latest surprises was the announcement by the Marshall Islands and St. Lucia of a "Coalition of High Ambition Countries," spearheaded by small island states which are the most at risk of being submerged due to climate change. The coalition includes over 100 countries, including the European Union countries and the United States, but notable exceptions are the largest developing countries, such as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa.

More on: politics&human rights|peace&security|health|economy|ict

AfricaFocus Archive: by date | by place | by topic

December 1, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Changing "the Media"
November 19, 2015  
    Africa: Boosting ICTs
November 11, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Follow the Money
November 5, 2015  
    Europe/Africa: Dialogue Unlikely at Migration Summit
October 28, 2015  
    South Sudan: Hard-Hitting Report from African Union
October 20, 2015  
    Africa: Tax Tricks, Mobile Phones, and Beer
October 13, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Health Challenges & Threats
October 6, 2015  
    South Africa/Global: Piketty says "Tax the Rich"
September 30, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Climate Action Beyond Paris
September 21, 2015  
    Africa: Internet Usage Rising Rapidly
September 14, 2015  
    West Africa: Tax Giveaway Follies
September 8, 2015  
    Mozambique/Africa: "The Eloquent Peasant"
August 3, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Climate Change Roundup
July 29, 2015  
    USA/Africa: Obama Visit Roundup
July 21, 2015  
    Africa/Global: "Stop The Bleeding"
July 14, 2015  
    Burundi: Diplomacy Falling Short

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