West African Churches Join The Alliance For Food Sovereignty In Africa
Lomé, 17 – 19, 2014: The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA) hosted a three day Strategic Planning Meeting on how to engage with the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and on the issues of food sovereignty and agro – ecological farming. Together, over 30 participants shared experiences and reflected on the struggles of the food sovereignty movement in Africa.
In his welcome statement, The Rev. Dr. Tolbert Thomas Jallah, Jr., Secretary – General of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa called on the participants not to wait until the year 2020, when over 40 million hectares of land around the globe will be converted for biofuel crops. He further exerted that “churches in West Africa are joining the Food Sovereignty Movement in Africa to advocate against hijacking and stealing communal land for crop production to feed livestock or fueling cars and not to feed people”. Rev. Dr. Jallah said that “it is unacceptable that one billion people go to bed hungry each night in the midst of abundant natural resources”. He called on supporting people to have choices in what they want to grow and what they want to eat.“Voices of African communities need to be the guiding force in the development of African agricultures.” claimed AFSA Chairman, Mr. Bernard Guri, COMPAS Ghana. AFSA, which is comprised of 15 organizations and networks, now needed to amplify its echo. Local communities were under threat to lose control over farming resources, land and water; all over the continent they were at risk to be marginalized by large scale investments and wrong policies. Dr. Ali Million Belay, AFSA Coordinator, emphasized: “The dominant paradigm of production increase, by high inputs and external costs for people and the environment is not the solution, but a danger to our food security! We are concerned about the ongoing rural exodus of young people, the loss of biodiversity, precarious water and natural resource management. “
The three day strategic planning meeting was officially declared open by Mr. Kossi Edou from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock of the Republic of Togo. Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Edou focused on the context of the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security and the United Nations International Year of Family Farming. He highlighted the Togolese government’s commitment towards modernizing agriculture by considering the needs of small and medium size agricultural producers, who formed the bulk of local farmers.
During the strategy meeting, participants discussed finding local solutions to the food crisis in Africa. Mr. Henk Hobelink, from the NGO Grain (GRAIN), emphasized on the need to resist the dangers posed by large scale agriculture investments and related resources waste by Multinational Corporations. He pointed out, irrigation needs of plantations around African rivers, such as the Nile and the Niger are rising to the point that those rivers will run dry in the medium term. Ms. Claire Quenum, of the African Network for the Right to Food (ANoRF) emphasized that “Land grabbing” is the source of major current and future conflicts in Africa. She said that land grabbing increases poverty, destroys people´s culture and tradition. She finally called on AFSA to advocate and campaign against this unprecedented crisis perpetrated by the Multinational Corporations on poor communities in Africa.
During the end of the meeting, FECCIWA Food Campaign was officially accepted into the membership of AFSA. Participants agreed to strengthen local peoples’ voices and promote local solutions for food sovereignty in Africa by confronting challenges related to land grabbing, marginalization of local farming cultures by foreign farming technologies, such as high intensive farming and genetically modified organisms (GMO). They also agreed on ways to promote agro ecology and sustainable farming techniques instead.
AFSA is pan-African organization, working towards food sovereignty on local, national and regional levels. AFSA reinforces small farmer led solutions to Africa’s food crisis and vehemently opposes measures imposed by the G8 New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN), spear headed by the world’s industrial powers. In the closing statement to the meeting AFSA says: “NAFSN is pressuring African countries to rewrite their seed and land laws to allow for fully fledged entry and profit making by multinational corporations on the continent.” AFSA is equally concerned about other similar initiatives, including the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), the US government’s Feed the Future (FtF) Initiative, the Grow Africa Partnership, and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Find more information on AFSA on: www.afsafrica.org