Open letter: The Green Revolution in Africa has unequivocally failed – African Arguments


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200 organisations call on donors to stop supporting industrial agriculture and instead listen to farmers’ visions for an equitable food system.
Small-scale farmers practising agroecological farming methods in Mali. Credit: Moussa-Magassa.
Dear donor representative,
We, 35 organisations from the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and 165 allied organisations in 40 countries around the world, call on your agency to cease funding the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and other Green Revolution programmes and to support African-led efforts to expand agroecology and other low-input farming systems.
AFSA, the continent’s largest network of civil society organisations, wrote to AGRA donors in May 2021 asking for evidence of the programme’s positive impacts. The network received few replies and no evidence.
AGRA has unequivocally failed in its mission to increase productivity and incomes and reduce food insecurity, and has in fact harmed broader efforts to support African farmers.
Over a decade of research has exposed the failure of AGRA on its own terms. After nearly 15 years and spending of more than $1 billion to promote the use of commercial seeds, chemical fertilisers, and pesticides in 13 African countries, and additional $1 billion per year of African government subsidies for seeds and fertilisers, AGRA has failed to provide evidence that yields, incomes or food security increased significantly, and sustainably, for smallholder households across its target countries. Since the onset of AGRA’s programme in 2006, the number of undernourished people across these 13 countries has increased by 30%. Even where staple crop production did increase, there was little reduction of rural poverty or hunger. Instead, diverse, climate-resilient crops that provide a more diverse and healthy diet for rural Africans have been displaced.
The role played by AGRA is of serious concern for several reasons:

It pursues an ill-conceived approach promoting monocultural commodity production heavily reliant on chemical inputs at the expense of sustainable livelihoods, long-term soil fertility, climate, and human development.
The strategy to convert farmers to “high-yield” commercial seeds, fertilisers and pesticides directly harms farmers as it increases their dependence on corporations and long supply chains for inputs and harms the environment. It also undermines resilience, and increases the risks of debt for small-scale farmers in the face of climate change.
AGRA uses its financial leverage to encourage African governments to focus on boosting agricultural yields at the expense of hunger and poverty on the continent, including centuries of exploitation of the continent’s people and natural resources that have not benefited Africans.

With AGRA’s president, Agnes Kalibata, leading the upcoming United Nations Food Systems Summit as UN Special Envoy, AGRA’s financial backing and influence allow its model to be wrongly presented as the way forward for the world. It is, in fact, part of the problem.
Hundreds of organisations from around the world have denounced the Food Systems Summit as an attempt to promote more corporate-led industrial agriculture around the world along AGRA’s model for Africa.
In June 2021, nearly 500 faith leaders across Africa sent a letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to end its damaging support for industrial agriculture. The letter, sent by the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), rejects the Foundation’s current approach to food security, in the face of the intensifying climate crisis, as doing more harm than good on the continent. They call on the Gates Foundation and other AGRA donors to listen to small-scale farmers and stop supporting industrial agriculture. We stand by the demands of these letters and ask your agency to listen to the voices of Africans in determining the efforts you support.
Whereas the world is faced with major human, environmental, and climate crises, it is urgent to change course and turn to a development model based on truly sustainable practices, equity, and justice. Farmers all over Africa have shown far more promising results sharing knowledge and working with scientists to establish low-input farming methods that leave the control of production in the hands of African farmers. We urge you to listen to the farmer movements from across the continent that have laid out their vision for a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system (such as the Declaration of Nyéléni and the Addis Ababa Declaration).
As the African faith leaders asked the Gates Foundation, we call for “respect and support to locally-defined, holistic approaches that enable agroecological transitions to sustainable food systems in Africa.”
We therefore call on you to immediately stop funding detrimental Green Revolution programs such as AGRA so that peasant-led agroecological approaches and other low external-input farming systems may truly thrive.

Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA Kenya)
Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch
Groundswell International
A Growing Culture
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
The Oakland Institute
Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

AFSA member networks

African Biodiversity Network (ABN)
African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)
Association Ouest Africaine pour le Développement de la Pêche Artisanale (ADEPA)
Coalition pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africaine (COPAGEN)
Comité Ouest Africain de Semences Paysannes (COASP)
Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS Africa)
Eastern and Southern Africa Pastoralist Network (ESAPN)
Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)
Faith & Justice Network of the Mano River Basin (FJN)
Farm-Saved Seeds Network (FASSNET)
Fédération Agroécologique du Bénin (FAEB)
Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA)
Friends of the Earth Africa (FoEA)
Global Justice Now!
Groundswell West Africa (GWA)
Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC)
Institut Africain pour le Développement Economique et Social (INADES-Formation)
Institut Panafricain pour la Citoyenneté, les Consommateurs et le Développement (CICODEV Africa)
Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE International)
La Via Campesina SEAfrica
North African Food Sovereignty Network (NAFSN)
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association
Plate-forme Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC)
Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture Programme (ReSCOPE)
Réseau Africain pour le Droit à l’Alimentation (RAPDA –Togo)
Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA)
Tanzanian Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO)
Union Africaine des Consommateurs (UAC)
We are the Solution (WAS)
World Neighbors
Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB)

Endorsed by 160 allied organisations in 40 countries around the world

350 Seattle
Acción Ecológica
Action for Community Transformation (ACT)
ActionAid International
Actions et Initiatives Locales d’Education de Paix et de Développement lnclusifs
Afar Pastoralist Development Association
African Beekeeping Resource Centre (ABRC)
Agro-Shrub Alliance
Agroecology Research-Action Collective
All India Union of Forest Working People AIUFWP
Ames Climate Action Team
Amis de la Terre France
Bioscience Resource Project
Biotech Services Sénégal
Biovision Foundation
Biowatch South Africa
Caribbean Agroecology Institute
Caritas Thies
Caritas Zambia
Casa Congo
CCFD-Terre Solidaire
Center for Food Safety (US)
Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR)
Centro Agrícola Cantonal de Quevedo
Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust
Círculo Argentino de Agroecología
Colectivo Agroecológico del Ecuador
Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT)
Conservation Agriculture Namibia
Consumers Union of Japan
COPAGEN Burkina Faso
Corriente Agraria Nacional y Popular Chaco
CST Ethiopia
Dartmouth College
Yolanda Whyte Pediatrics
EarthLore Foundation NPC (EarthLore)
Ecological organic agriculture Initiative (EOA I)
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)
ETC Group
Fahamu Africa
Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre
Family Farm Defenders
Farmworker Association of Florida
FIAN Belgium
FIAN Colombia
FIAN Germany
FIAN International
Focus on the Global South
Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition
Food Sovereignty Ghana
Food, Agriculture & Society Program, Macalester College
Foro Feminista Magaly Pineda
Forum on Environment and Development
Friends of the Earth International
Friends of the Earth, U.S.
Friends of the MST (US)
FUGPN Mooriben
Fundación Semillas de Vida, A.C.
Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB)
GE Free NZ in Food and Environment
Global Center for Climate Justice
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
GMO Science
Granja Soleil en transición agroecologica razonada
Grassroots International
Green America
Haki Nawiri Afrika
Harambee House, inc
Ileoge Farmers Market
Indigenous Strategy & Institution for Development(ISID)
Initiative for Agriculture and Rural Development in Mali
Inter Pares
Joint Action for Water
Justica Ambiental JA!
Kasisi Agricultural Training Center (KATC)
Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum
Landless Peoples Movement SA
Les Jardins de l’Espoir
Maendeleo Endelevu Action Program (MEAP)
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mazingira Institute
Millennium Institute
Moms Across America
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)
National Family Farm Coalition
National Organic Actors Platform Uganda
Natures Wisdom
Njeremoto Biodiversity Institute NBI-Zim
ONG La Grande Puissance de Dieu
Organic Consumers Alliance(OCA)
Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples
Pesticide Action Nexus Association
Presbyterian Church USA
Programme de Développement du Kasai
ReAct Transnational
Real Food Media
Red Correntina de Agroecologia
Rhedpat Organic intergrated Farms
Rural Vermont
Schola Campesina
Seeds Savers Network Kenya
Semillas de Identidad
Small Planet Institute
Society for International Development
Soil Generation
Soils Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC)
SOS FAIM Luxembourg
Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON)
Southern Agricultural Research Institute
St Jude Family Projects
Strategies for Agro-Pastoralist’s Development
Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN)
Transnational Institute
TREEhouse Growing Eating Living
Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)
Turning Green
UNAM, National University of Mexico
Unión de Scientíficos Comprometidos con la Sociedad
United Church of Christ
United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana
Universidad Veracruzana
Village Volunteers
Voluntary Services Overseas
Washington Biotechnology Action Council
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, US
Women’s Intl. League for Peace & Freedom, Boston, MA branch
World Public Health Nutrition Association
Young Green Women SierraLeone
Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF)

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