Press Statement

July 23, 2021

ERA/FoEN, 15 other groups carpet AGRA, reiterate support for agroecology

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and 15 other food sovereignty campaign organisations have urged Global north governments to stop all financial and political support for the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and other initiatives promoting the Green Revolution. They were encouraged instead to channel their support to agroecology if Africa is to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of halving hunger in 20 countries of the continent.

The groups’ position is coming on the heels of new evidence of AGRA’s failure to double agricultural yields, among other promises, which were exposed in its own internal mid-term evaluation and an 11- country evaluation on its website. The evidence confirms an earlier report in “False Promises” Study: The AGRA Approach has Failed, which was published in July 2020 by an alliance of five African and five German organizations. Central to that study was the question of whether AGRA has achieved its own goals of doubling agricultural yields and the incomes of 30 million small-scale food producer households, thereby halving both hunger and poverty in 20 African countries by 2020.

AGRA’s Green Revolution approach did not provide farmers involved in its projects with incomes that are above the poverty line, the self evaluation reveals. It exposed how AGRA has systematically exerted political influence on fertilizer and seed legislation in partner countries in favour of agribusiness and to the detriment of smallholder producers, among other things by sending staff or providing direct financial support to ministries or advisory bodies of African governments. In this way, it promotes and creates, through financial and other contributions, an institutional framework in many of its focus countries that makes its own Green Revolution approach binding through laws and framework conditions. In this way, AGRA ultimately legitimizes itself.

The evaluation report for Nigeria illustrates how AGRA’s push to introduce seed laws are primarily aligned with industry interests. In Tanzania the private sector can now access seed generated by public breeding. AGRA directly financed government agencies that worked on seven of the eight policy reforms in Ghana alone—four specifically in seed and artificial fertilizer. It also developed the legislative proposals along the interests of the private sector rather than by furthering the interests of small-scale food producers. In Uganda AGRA supported the national fertilizer platform, chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture, which paved the way for the private sector to take over the quality control of fertilizer.

In Burkina Faso instead of addressing and improving existing farmer seed systems, AGRA attempts to abolish them through new seed laws and relies on hybrid seeds that lose their productivity once they are replanted. Farmers are therefore compelled to buy seed every year.

ERA/FoEN Acting Executive Director, Chima Williams said: “We are not in any way surprised that AGRA has been forced to admit what we have said over the years: that their bogus claims of bumper yields for farmers was only intended to manipulate the laws as a step to controlling what we grow and eat. This study re-confirms it”

The background paper concluded that

1. The results of AGRA’s own evaluations prove its systematic failure and underscore the fact that there is no basis for the further cooperation of African governments, and those from elsewhere, with AGRA either financially or politically. They also reveal the lack of accountability in this billion-dollar project.

2. AGRA’s claimed expertise in fighting hunger and its leadership role, such as currently at the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), is not warranted. AGRA neither represents the interests of small-scale farmers / food producers, nor has its approach with the Green Revolution’s technology package reduced hunger or poverty in its focus countries.

3. The persistence of AGRA in promoting its approach is more problematic because there is a more effective alternative to AGRA. There is growing evidence that Agroecology systematically addresses hunger and the general socio-economic wellbeing of people and territories without compromising the integrity of the natural environment.

Based on the conclusions, the publishers of the background paper strongly recommend that all countries involved in AGRA programmes withdraw from them, and that governments shift their financial and political support away from AGRA and other initiatives promoting the Green Revolution, in support of agroecology as the best pathway to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

ERA/FoEN and the 15 African and German organizations asked donor governments in the Global North to cease all political and financial support for AGRA and shift their support to agroecology. In addition, African governments should withdraw from AGRA and other Green Revolution programs, and redirect spending towards the promotion of a more robust array of policies in support of agroecology.

The background paper is a joint publication by ERA/FoEN, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA, Uganda), Association Monde Rural (AMR, Burkina Faso), Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA), Brot für die Welt (Germany), FIAN Germany, Forum on the Environment and Development (Germany), INKOTA-netzwerk (Germany), L’Institut de Recherche et de Promotion des Alternatives en Développement (IRPAD, Mali), PELUM Tanzania, PELUM Uganda, PELUM Zambia, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (Germany and South Africa), Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO), and Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM).