Governments warned over agribusiness giants

by jeeg 15. April 2011 15:57

A GROUPING of small scale farmers in 12 African countries has asked governments to be wary of agribusiness giants who want to bring in Genetically Modified Crops under the disguise of support to small holder farmers.

The grouping, under Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers' Forum (ESAFF) said in Dar es Salaam on Monday that there was threat that genetically modified (GMO) crops pose for indigenous plant species, organic harvests, small farmers, and the health and welfare of everyone.

ESAFF Regional Chairperson Elizabeth Mpofu said it was important to educate everyone about genetically modified crops and, more importantly, how to fight big billion dollar companies like Monsanto that are hovering like hawks ready to swoop in for the kill.

She warned about the ruthless practices of corporations which acquire patents, sometimes illegitimately, to crop genes and end up controlling the farmers who grow them.

"Our seed has stood the test of time and can be used to produce bumper harvest," she said.

She said there should be something to relieve the economy of farmers towards escalating seed prices.

ESAFF also said small scale farmers should push for the governments in Africa to allocate more money into the agriculture sector by honouring the 10 per cent budget allocation to agriculture as of their Maputo 2003 declaration.

They said that since small scale farmers are the biggest producers in member countries, they should be included in decision making processes at policy level on land rights, access to inputs, farm equipments since they feed nations.

In Tanzania, the sector experienced a 35.5 per cent increase in funding from 666.9bn/- the previous fiscal year to 903.8bn/- in the current 2010/2011 national budget.

The ESAFF triennial general summit starts in Morogoro today with Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Seychelles, Madagascar, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi while Mozambique has applied for membership.

The objective is to bring farmers together to share about the challenges of new agriculture caused by internal and external factors.

The ESAFF chair said some of these include the food price increase, climate change, land grabbing, market access and also the growing concentration of agriculture input supply to few global agrochemical companies.

"There is a trend that shows that Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont are using these initiatives to colonize Africa from seeds to super marketing. This will mean that small scale farmers will lose their right to seeds and the whole productive chain," she said.

ESAFF Board member from Tanzania, Mr Elias Kawea, argued that it is also known that, these agrochemical companies are promoting non conventional seeds (GMOs) and imposing them through various programmes made as rendering solutions to the African hunger situations.

Their proposition to African governments is that all these initiatives must include the decisions of the real practitioners of production of small scale farmers.

Orton Kiishweko, Tanzania Daily News


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