In the nineteenth century, European colonial powers, such as Britain, France, Portugal and Belgium, took control of African land in order to exploit the continent’s most valuable resources. Now, a new race for African resources is underway.
In recent years, a series of new initiatives have been launched that claim to support agricultural production in Africa. One such initiative is the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which at the expense of small farmers, has allowed companies to increase their control over Africa’s land, seeds and markets, and unsurprisingly has been damned as ‘a new form of colonialism.’
The New Alliance has made it easier for companies and foreign investors to acquire agricultural land. Mozambique has leased 20% of its agricultural land, while Ethiopia has leased 8%. If this continues, communities will be left without access to resources and unable to make a living to feed themselves and their families.
The World Development Movement have created an interactive infographic allowing users to view direct comparisons between the colonialism of old and the focus of corporations, such as Monsanto and Syngenta, for control of Africa’s agricultural land and resources.
Modern day multinational seed companies are investing big money to expand their business into Africa. Corporate seeds, including seeds that are genetically modified, are patented, meaning that farmers are unable to save them, forcing them to become dependent on purchasing new seeds each year. Changes in seed laws could also prevent small scale farmers from saving and exchanging their own varieties of seeds, which has traditionally been done for generations.
It’s important to remember what’s at stake here. Family and small scale farmers in Africa are not only responsible for providing food for most of the continent, but they also play an essential role in increasing food security, protecting biodiversity and boosting local economies.
Feature image by Neil Palmer
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