Church Leaders raise public concern about the future of West African Agriculture at the World Social Forum
The World Social Forum, taking place in Tunis from the 26th-30th March 2013, African Church Leaders call on Social Movements and Civil Society Organizations to strengthen public concern about policy choices , which impact on Africa Agriculture.
The Most Rev. Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, President of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa, (FECCIWA), and Primate of the African Church World Wide, left his home Country, Nigeria, for one week full of lobby and advocacy events among influential Civil Society Leaders from all over the world. According to the Most Rev. Udofia before boarding the flight for Tunis, "it's a part of the churches’ mandate to speak out on behalf of the world’s people".
At the Al-Manar University Campus, the venue of the Forum, The Most Rev. Udofia raises his voice in front of dozens of people listening to his discourse: “It is a big worry for our churches that our people are plagued by persisting hunger and malnourishment. We need to take wise decisions now for the future we want. We do need to progress carefully. Even after years of neglect, with no public spending, the sudden and hefty interest in our Agriculture may not bear much needed fruits; it might instead turn into another curse to our people. Especially our small scale farmers are already facing further marginalization because of false political solutions".
As any other West African Country, Nigeria is witnessing high influx of investments into agriculture since world food prices sky rocked and banks have tumbled into financial recession, our virgin lands in Africa became safe havens for foreign investors. Our political leaders are getting enticed to enter into lucrative collaboration with fertilizer, seeds and pesticide firms, to compensate for high costs in foreign spending. According to statistics by the World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Nigeria alone payed 5 Billion Us Dollars for staple food imports in 2010, whereas on the regional level this sums up to 11 Billion US Dollars. This spending level is not even compensated by the sum of the region’s agricultural exports, which account for not more than 10 Billion US Dollar in 2010, according to FAO data.
But churches are concerned about the sudden rush into high input farming, promoted by industrialized nations and agribusiness as remedy to create economic growth and to fight food insecurity in Africa. They question whether it corresponds to the actual needs of African farmers. “While millions of Dollars are spent to buy inputs from foreign agribusiness, farmers are lacking basic support services they demand: access to credits, markets, storage and assurance facilities.”
At the World Social Forum Udofia and his ecumenical delegation are giving ecumenical solidarity to global CSOs in shaping the future we want. The Ecumencial Delegation from West Africa declares that there is enough food in the World to feed everyone. Yet it is a disappointment for church leaders to see women, men and children go to bed hungry every night and to see 2.3 million children die from malnutrition each year. The church leaders call upon representatives of International Humanitarian Organizations to raise concerns about agribusiness’s raising grip on African governments, which has jeopardized the future African Farmers Want.