[permaculture] Africa's 'Green Revolution' on Shaky Ground "A new African aid project may be in danger of becoming yet another boon for Big Agra'

Wesley Roe and Marjorie Lakin Erickson lakinroe at silcom.com
Thu Jun 28 12:24:48 EDT 2007

hi everyone
          With the International Permaculture 
Conference and Convergence happening in Africa in 
2009, it will be very important to support the 
event by attending and also giving some financial support.
	The Organizers of IPC9 The Regional Schools and 
Colleges Permaculture (RESCOPE) Programme of 
Malawi and the most famous and oldest 
Permaculture Center in Africa Fambidzanai 
Permaculture Center are planning a series of 4 
permaculture Course over the next 2 years leading 
up to IPC9 in 2007 to teach a PDC course to 
representatives of every country in Africa , so 
the IPC9 will truly be a Continental event for 
Africa and the world. Theses PDC courses will 
require support of the International Permaculture 
Community to help finance part of the courses. If 
you have any leads to help them for the moment 
until the website is activated for IPC9  please contact
		wes roe  and margie bushman Facilitator  for 
the International Support Group of IPC9

Africa's 'Green Revolution' on Shaky Ground
A new African aid project may be in danger of 
becoming yet another boon for Big Agra
—By Natalie Hudson, Utne.com 
June 28, 2007 Issue

Aiding unfamiliar communities in foreign 
countries is a thorny business. Even for 
foundations with virtually unlimited resources, 
such as those of Microsoft multibillionaire Bill 
Gates and the famously loaded Rockefellers. Last 
fall these two titans of philanthropy joined in 
undertaking a $150 million sub-Saharan Africa 
project called Alliance for a Green Revolution in 
Africa (AGRA). According to AGRA's website, the 
new "Green Revolution" aims to assuage poverty 
and hunger through agricultural development focusing on small-scale farmers.

Though the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has 
received wide acclaim for its aid efforts, Becky 
Brun of Sustainable Industries (subscription 
only) reports that its new African venture has 
critics raising pitchforks in alarm. Consider, 
critics say, that the original, 
Rockefeller-sponsored Green Revolution project in 
the 1940s, 50s, and 60s introduced Latin America, 
Southeast Asia, and India to industrial 
agricultural practices that are heavily reliant 
on fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, and 
monocultures of a handful of globally marketable 
crops, such as rice, corn, and wheat. Rural 
farmers were unable to weather the high costs of 
this technological farming and forced to give up 
their farms and relocate to join the urban 
workforce. Though AGRA's representatives claim 
the "New Green Revolution" will be nothing like 
the Rockefellers' original one, critics are 
concerned that the same mistakes may be repeated, 
in a place where they can least afford them: 
sub-Saharan Africa. The area is, as Brun notes, 
"the only region in the world where per-capita 
food production worsens every year."

Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report is highly 
skeptical of the motives of these large 
philanthropic organizations and considers the 
media support for the AGRA project an example of 
"poor-washing" -- a "public relations tactic of 
concealing bitterly unfair and predatory trade 
policies... with clouds of hypocritical noise 
about feeding the hungry and alleviating 
poverty." Until AGRA's "shiny PR campaign" came 
along, writes Dixon, Africa was able to fend off 
Western efforts to cash in on the continent's 
agriculture industry. The new campaign has made 
inroads with the friendly faces of Bill Gates and 
Kofi Annan, yet some organizations like the ETC 
Group (the Action Group on Erosion, Technology, 
and Concentration) consider it a risk that could 
repeat the errors of the 20th century. In a press 
release, ETC says the project, which it terms 
"Green Revolution 2.0," will still be centered on 
"high-tech seeds" and will seek "continental 
changes in market structure, intellectual 
property laws, and seed regulation so that 
agribusiness suppliers can profitably sell seeds, 
chemicals, and other inputs to farmers."

For their part, the foundations' representatives, 
including Dr. Rajiv Shah, director of 
agricultural development for the Gates 
Foundation, proclaim their commitment to small 
farmers and stress that "AGRA is led by 
Africans," writes Brun. Many remain wary, 
however, especially in light of AGRA's fall 
hiring of former Monsanto executive Rob Horsch, 
followed by the recruitment of Lawrence Kent, a 
director of international programs at the 
Monsanto-funded Danforth Center, as noted by the 
Organic Consumers Association. And if the seventh 
annual World Social Forum gathering in Nairobi, 
Kenya, was any indication, the "New Green 
Revolution" will face African opposition as well. 
As Brun reports, 70 organizations from 12 African 
countries attending the January event formally 
criticized the aid initiatives of Gates and 
others, claiming they will "destroy the basis of 
biodiversity... at a time when it is needed most."

Go there >> Burly Gates

Go there, too >> Poor-Washing, the Gates 
Foundation and the "Green Revolution" in Africa

And there >> Food Sovereignty or Green Revolution 2.0?

And there >> Monsanto's Men Control Gates Foundation's Millions

Related Links:
Genetic Patenting Means Corporate Profits, Not Progress
Food First Policy Brief No. 12

Related Links from the Utne Reader Archive:
White Man's Burden
An Economy of Fail

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