Ending Africa’s Hunger

Ending Africa’s Hunger

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Unformatted text preview: that will soon let the project officers seek feedback through the cellphones of more than 10,000 farmer stakeholders. It’s unusual in the world of foundations to have such a strong commitment to correcting mistakes. In its flexibility and openness to reform, the Gates Foundation seems ready to depart from the trajectory of the first Green Revolution. Stung by widespread criticism over its Green Revolution approach, AGRA representatives have begun participating in public consultations with NGOs and African farm leaders. While this dialogue is an important step, the farm leaders are unhappy about being consulted so late in the game. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, recently convened a dialogue on AGRA. There, Simon Mwamba of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers’ Forum expressed this frustration in no-nonsense terms: “You come. You buy the land. You make a plan. You build a house. Now you ask me, what color do I want to paint the kitchen? This is not participation!” Nnimmo Bassey, director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria, suggests, “If the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations wish to extend the hand of fellowship to the African continent, they should move away from strategies that favor monoculture, lead to land grabs and tie local farmers to the shop doors of biotech seed monopolies.” This is feedback that can’t so easily be shot back to base through a cellphone. The calls from African organizations to be able to set the agenda for their own agricultural development are heard only faintly in the United States. That’s largely because when it comes to African hunger, prejudices about the incompetence of African farmers and the marvels of biotechnology do a lot of the thinking for us. But the Gates Foundation isn’t a victim of poor reasoning. It actively promotes an agenda that supports some of the most powerful corporations on earth. Far more than the peer-reviewed IAASTD study, Gates’s strategy reflects another report, funded by the foundation itself: “Renewing American Leadership in the Fight Against Global Hunger and Poverty” from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Knocked out in a couple of months by a small team led by a Gates Foundation senior fellow and stacked with staff from institutions receiving substantial Gates money, the report, while rightly calling for renewed investment and education, again ignores the structural and political causes of Africa’s hunger, ascribing it to a technical deficit. The report concludes that the United States needs to “reassert its leadership” in “spreading new technologies,” because it will increase trade and “strengthen American institutions.” Worse, the council’s solutions—with classic Green Revolution hubris—ignore the successful endogenous solutions that have been spreading across the continent for three decades. Rarely in the history of philanthropy has one foundation—or more correctly, one man—had this kind of pow...
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This note was uploaded on 11/26/2012 for the course MATH 2313 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Texas El Paso.

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